Our first reading today comes from the book of Ezekiel. Read the passage below.
The angel brought me, Ezekiel,First Reading
back to the entrance of the temple of the LORD,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the right side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the right side.
Then when he had walked off to the east
with a measuring cord in his hand,
he measured off a thousand cubits
and had me wade through the water,
which was ankle-deep.
He measured off another thousand
and once more had me wade through the water,
which was now knee-deep.
Again he measured off a thousand and had me wade;
the water was up to my waist.
Once more he measured off a thousand,
but there was now a river through which I could not wade;
for the water had risen so high it had become a river
that could not be crossed except by swimming.
He asked me, “Have you seen this, son of man?”
Then he brought me to the bank of the river, where he had me sit.
Along the bank of the river I saw very many trees on both sides.
He said to me,
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
In the passage, we see water flowing down from the south side of the altar. Imagine yourself in your home church facing the altar like you usually do. The water would be flowing from the right side of the altar. Why is the side it is flowing from significant? As best I know, it was a symbolism of the temple in Jerusalem. When Passover occurred, they would purify the altar of sacrifice with water, and it would flow down the south side of the temple. There would be a river of blood and water flowing down into the Kidron Valley, which is south and east of the temple.
Ezekiel is promising that a river of life will flow from the temple. If you go to Jerusalem now, you will find that temple is not present, and what is there now is called the Dome of the Rock. However, this prophecy was fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled to this day. I recommend you open up to the passion narrative of our Lord. Take a look at John 19:33-35.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows* that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may [come to] believeJohn 19:33-35
From Jesus’ side comes blood and water. John makes it a point to emphasize that someone was there to testify to this truth, that you may believe. Why would that matter? I think it is because John knows of the prophecy of Ezekiel and that from the side of Christ comes living water. The book of Revelation also backs up this point.
Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.
From Jesus’ side comes living water, the same living water promised by Ezekiel. How is this fulfilled in our time? At the sacrifice of the Mass, when water is poured into the chalice.
This might be a lot to take in and reflect over. What I would suggest is that Jesus wants to give us living water, and we find this living water in the sacraments. First, in our baptism, we received living water, which purified us and made us clean. Secondly, we receive God’s own body and blood in the Eucharist.
A question may come up for us during this time of the pandemic. How can I receive this living water when I’m ordered to stay at my house, and I can’t go to Mass? I believe we can do it through prayer and to read the scriptures. I’ve also seen many priests offer their private Mass on Facebook. I understand the bishop offers daily Mass at 8 am every morning from the Catholic Life Center. You should be able to find this on Catholic Life TV or channel 15. I know many churches have their doors open for specific hours of prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist in the tabernacle. Just remember to practice social distancing. I hope God can bless us all during this time even though we may be distanced from the sacraments.