“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” (Ps 46:4)
Last Friday, a river gushed forth through the city of God. The steel point of the lance, bound to a wooden rod with simple cord, pierced the precious side of our Lord’s unblemished body. That perishable spear opened an imperishable fount.
The staff of Moses struck a rock in the desert, from which water flowed to the delight of a parched people (Nm 20:11). But this rock—which St. Paul tells us was Christ (1 Cor 10:4)—was only to provide a tiny river for a small people within the limits of a desert land. Last Friday, the rock of the Word made flesh was opened to provide a torrent of spiritual power for all people throughout the whole world unto the end of time.
The prophet Ezekiel had a vision in which he “saw water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple” (Ezek 47:1). It flowed eastward and eventually ran out “into the polluted waters of the sea to freshen them” (47:8). It was deep, strong, and impassable. It was unconquerable. Where it went it refreshed the land, giving life to everything its waters touched.
Last Friday we saw this prophetic image of Ezekiel fulfilled. Christ—the New Temple—gave forth not only water, but blood also. The channels of grace, erected by Jesus Christ during his earthly sojourn with the Apostolic troop, swelled with the life-giving waters of Baptism and the spiritual nourishment of his Most Precious Blood. A torrent of sacramental grace rushed out from his pierced side, the fount of salvation, and into a polluted world to refresh tired and thirsty souls. It became a great river in God’s eternal city. It flows to this day, refreshing the earth and giving life wherever it goes.
Last Friday was not a bad day—it was good to a degree we cannot fathom. For an endless stream issued forth from the very heart of Jesus Christ. Through his self-gift, and in the Holy Spirit, we enter into sacred mysteries as we look to the Father of all. This Easter Season, we will witness infants receive the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity as they become adopted sons and daughters through the waters of Baptism. Fragrant chrism will adorn the foreheads of youth, eager to witness to Christ, and even to die for him. Bride and bridegroom will give themselves to one other in marital love. The same chrism which confirmed so many youth will anoint the hands of chosen men who will, with fear and trembling, become custodians of the very mysteries that make up the Great River of God’s city.
No, Friday was not bad at all, for from it came the Easter waterway—the “river whose streams make glad the city of God.”
Image: Antonio Joli, Rome, A View of the Tiber with the Castel Sant’angelo and Saint Peter’s Basilica