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by Ottavio De Bertolis

In our previous meetings we contemplated that river of living water that flows from the pierced side of the Lord and we saw how in this image from the Gospel of John that page of the prophet Ezekiel comes to life in which we are presented with a raging river that flows from the temple , precisely "from the temple of his body" (Jn 2, 21).

We also began to mention how the living water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit who has been promised. Again the prophet Ezekiel helps us, in a very famous text: «I will sprinkle you with pure water and you will be purified; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols; I will give you a new heart, I will put a new spirit within you, I will take away the heart of stone from you and give you a heart of flesh" (Ez 36, 25-26). This passage shows the close connection that exists between living water, the gift of the Spirit and a "new heart", which is that of the new Adam, that is, of Jesus Christ; and it is no coincidence that it is a passage often used in the liturgy for the administration of Baptism, for the mention of the living water that purifies, and of Confirmation, for the reference to the new spirit that transforms the old, or "stone" heart. into a new one, or "of flesh". In fact it is easy to demonstrate that for John Pentecost takes place right under the cross. There we find a community of believers made up of the mother of Jesus, the women and the disciple that Jesus loved, just as in Luke's narrative in the Acts of the Apostles we see the gift of the Spirit fulfilled at Pentecost, fifty days after the Resurrection. The Spirit is the first gift of Christ's death, of which it is said "And, bowing his head, he breathed his last" (Jn 19:30). The expression "spirò" does not in fact simply mean that "he died", even if in Italian it is actually said of someone who dies, who expires or takes his last breath. In fact, breath is the symbol of life, and the Spirit, in the Old Testament, is first and foremost breath. Jesus, by expiring, grants us his breath, the very life on which he lives, so that we no longer live, but he lives in us (cf. Gal 2, 20), and we can live like him. The expression "spirò" should in fact be translated, literally, as "he handed over the spirit". To who? To the Father, naturally, giving him or giving back his life, that is, placing it in his hands, but also in us. That "breathing away" in fact recalls the very first line of Scripture, the first verse of the book of Genesis, where "the spirit of God hovered over the waters" (Gen. 1,1). Here, on the great waters that seem to immerse and swallow Jesus - the great waters of evil and man's sin - hovers the Holy Spirit, who draws to Him all of history, the great one, of the entire world, and the small one, that is, that of all of us, thus fulfilling the word when it reads «when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself» (Jn 12, 32). In fact, the Spirit bears witness to Jesus, presents his words to our hearts, moves us to decide for him. Even more: he makes us new Christs, making our life similar to his, making us capable of choosing and desiring for us what he chose and desired for himself, thus saving us from the law, which appears inescapable, of sin and death. This Spirit is "deserved" for us, obtained from Passion; paradoxically God uses the death of Jesus, caused by us, by our rejection, to fill us with living and new water, to give us a new heart. The Heart of Christ was opened by a thrust of a spear, not by our good works. God used an instrument of offense, sin, what unites us all, to allow us to open our hearts and renew ourselves in his Holy Spirit.  

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