The river of life

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Ez 47:1-9, 12

He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold, for the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. The man went off to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my waist. He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross. He then said, ‘Do you see, son of man?’ He then took me and brought me back to the bank on the river. Now, when I reached it, I saw an enormous number of trees on each bank of the river. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’

As we listen to the last lines of this text, we think of the holy Baptism and we also think of a part of the last chapter of Revelation, where it says: “Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear. Down the middle of the city street, on either bank of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nations.” (Rev 22:1-2)

We know that Holy Baptism is a great gift from God. This simple, seemingly insignificant act produces exactly what is described here. It heals man of original sin; it frees him from his helpless condition; the salt waters are cleansed. All that was corrupted by sin comes in contact with this healing spring; men are awakened to true life. It is the water of life, which must flow everywhere, for Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into the whole world and baptise all nations (cf. Mt 28:19).

But this river or torrent spoken of in these visions not only symbolises Holy Baptism; it could refer in general to the grace of God, which is especially present in the world thanks to the Death and Resurrection of Christ, to save, to liberate and to heal. This living water is also the Word of God, which descends from heaven like dew and pours down like rain, according to this verse of Deuteronomy: “May my teaching fall like the rain, may my word drop down like the dew, like showers on the grass, like light rain on the turf!” (32:2)

The symbolism of these visions lends itself, moreover, to identifying the Holy Eucharist with those fruits produced by the trees by the riverside. Jesus has brought us the tree of life, and its fruits are Himself, who is life and gives us life! When we receive the Lord in the Holy Communion, He strengthens the supernatural life granted to us in baptism and heals all our sterilities.

Many times I have quoted and recommended a small book, entitled The Father Speaks to His Children, which contains the message the Heavenly Father gave to Mother Eugenia Ravasio in 1932; a private revelation with ecclesiastical approval. In that book, the Father also tells us about the fountain that flows from Him:

“I have just opened up a fountain of living water which will never dry up from now until the end of time. I am coming to you, My creatures, to open My paternal Breast, filled with love for you, My children. (…) It is not enough for Me to have shown you My love; I also want to open up My Heart to you, whence a refreshing spring will issue and where all men will quench their thirst. (…)Since the time when I promised men a Saviour, I have let this spring gush forth. I made it pass through My Son’s Heart to reach you. But My immense love for you makes Me do even more, opening My Breast from Which this water of salvation will gush for My children, and I permit them to draw freely whatever they need for time and for eternity. If you wish to test the power of this spring about which I am talking, first learn to know Me better. (…) My Son is the vessel of this fountain, that men may go and draw from His Heart, Which is always full to overflowing with the water of salvation! (…) So come to Me through My Son (…) I will show you this fountain, making Myself known to you as I really am.”

The text goes on to say that this fountain will heal ailments, strengthen man, increase his joy; and Our Father reveals to us that the key to drinking from this fountain is to approach Him confidently. Then we will discover the Ocean of divine love and be able to live in true peace.

Obviously, through this text we have heard, God Himself gives us to understand what is meant by this “river of life”, which flows from His Fatherly Heart to us through the Son. It is His love, which wants to heal everything! And He wants to give us an even deeper understanding of this love for the salvation, healing and liberation of the peoples.