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by Ottavio De Bertolis

In our previous reflections we have contemplated how the Heart of Christ is for us a source of living water, the promised Spirit, and we have seen, as if against the light, the images and references of Scripture that are implicit in the scene presented to us by John: but they are not the only ones, and in our monthly appointment we would like to show some others. The image of the pierced side is like the tip of an iceberg: under the emerged part there is much more, which however cannot be seen, and is under the water.

In this way we can bring out what is behind, or underneath, so that what we see becomes even more beautiful and significant. A river of living water certainly reminds us of the temple from which waters flow that heal wherever they reach, according to Ezekiel's prophecy which you will remember, but we can also find other places in Scripture that can help us read this image. So you will remember how in the desert the Israelites were thirsty because they had no water, and they murmured against God and against Moses (see Nm 20), who struck a rock with a stick and abundant water came out; this episode is also taken up again by Paul, who comments on it and gives a sort of theological interpretation: "in fact they drank from a spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ" (1 Cor 10, 4).

Thus the image of life, which is suggested by the water, is accompanied and superimposed by that of the rock, which is the strength and solidity of Christ himself, in whom, moreover, all the innumerable expressions of the psalms in which it is sung as God is the strength and refuge of his faithful servant, as for example: "I love you, Lord, my strength, Lord my rock, my fortress and my deliverer" (Ps 18 (17), 1-2). Moreover, "a river and its streams cheer up the city of God, the holy abode of the Most High" still sings a Psalm, 46 (45), 5. And the Apocalypse, taking up all these images and combining them with the prophecy of Ezekiel , describes the heavenly Jerusalem thus: "He then showed me a river of living water clear as crystal that flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb."

The Heart of Christ in his throne, the Lamb, is the living source from which flows the Spirit who gladdens the city of God, and the righteous in bliss are like trees planted along that stream, and produce fruits of life: in this image they condense other images, wisdom, such as that of Jeremiah: «Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and the Lord is his trust. He is like a tree planted along the water, he spreads his roots towards the current; he is not afraid when the heat comes, his leaves remain green; in the year of drought he does not grieve, he does not stop producing his fruit" (Jer 17, 7-8). The first psalm is still reflected in it: «Blessed is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, does not linger in the path of sinners and does not sit in the company of fools; but he delights in the law of the Lord, he meditates on his law day and night.

It will be like a tree planted by streams of water that will bear fruit in due season, and its leaves will never fall" (Psalm 1:1-3). We have exposed these quotations not for erudition, but to show how the Heart of Christ truly makes us understand the prophets, the law and the Psalms, as the risen Christ showed to the disciples, and in this sense we can see that submerged or hidden world of the Scriptures which in Him it is summed up and fulfilled. Every time we invoke the Heart of Christ we must have our hearts, the eyes of our mind, filled with all this richness. And so the source of living water, the rock of the desert, is further enriched with the prophecy: "they have forsaken me, the source of living water, to dig cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jer 2 , 13).

What Yahweh says about Israel also becomes true for us, new Israel, and for Jesus, from whose pierced side came the living water that alone quenches thirst, and which we abandon by turning to other idols, while He calls us saying: «You will draw water with joy at the springs of salvation" (Is 12, 3). And the name "Jesus", as you know, actually means "salvation of God": the sources of salvation are the sources of Jesus.

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