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AHC C Rivers of Living Water - Hebrew Catholics

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Rivers of Living Water

     Pentecost Sunday          Year C

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
www.hebrewcatholic.org.nz

Click here for a printable copy of this paper

St. John 7: 37 39

 

Introduction

Our text is the Gospel reading for the Vigil of Pentecost. Earlier in chapter 7 Jesus is seen sending the disciples off to Jerusalem to celebrate the week-long Festival of Tabernacles, while He stayed behind in Galilee. When they were safely dispatched, He also set out in secret. It appears that on arrival He kept a low profile at first, and then as the week progressed, He began to teach in the Temple courtyard. Eventually Temple Police were sent out to arrest Him, but they found it impractical, in fact beyond them to take Him into custody.

The day before our reading occurred, Jesus made it plain He was going to a place where His opponents would not be able to find Him. This helps us understand what followed — the promise of the Holy Spirit was tied to His departure.

Click here for a printable copy of the text.

 

Some Reflections on Our Text

 

                               John 7: 37 39


On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus
stood up and exclaimed,
“Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.

Whoever believes in me, as scripture says:
‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’.”

He said this in reference to the Spirit that those
who came to
believe in him were to receive.
There was, of course, no Spirit
yet, because
Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 Verse 37

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus
stood up and exclaimed,
“Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.”

Our text opens on the last day of the great Feast of Tabernacles. This celebrated the pilgrimage of Israel through the desert, and the abiding presence of God as He demonstrated His loving and caring attention in the provision of food and water by many miracles.

According to several eminent scholars, each day during the weeklong Feast of Tabernacles, water was brought from the Pool of Siloam back to the Temple and poured out as a symbol of the Age of the Messiah when water would pour from Jerusalem in every direction.

As the lesson which was read from Zechariah 14: 8 said

“On that day, living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
  half to the eastern sea, and half to the western sea,
  and it shall be so in summer and in winter.”

On the last day (some say the eighth), the most solemn, the pouring out of the water was not done! It was on this day that Jesus chose to stand up and call out:

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

This is unmistakably a promise of living water through the Spirit.

Jesus follows that invitation with a bold statement:

Verse 38

“Whoever believes in me, as scripture says:
  ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’.”

There has been much debate over what Scripture our Lord appears to be freely quoting. Some very reliable scholarship links his words to Nehemiah chapter 9, especially verse 20 which says:

“Your good spirit you bestowed on them, to give them
  understanding; your manna you did not withhold from
  their mouths, and you gave them water in their thirst.”

We will pause for a moment to reflect on the way our Lord’s listeners would have interpreted His explanation when they heard Him make this link with prophecy.

In the first part of the quotation from the Prophet Nehemiah, the term “understanding” here refers to the Torah, the Holy Law: learning God’s Holy Will, having God’s Holy Word written on their hearts. The Spirit then teaches and deepens their understanding.

The second part of the sentence shows the Spirit being given with essential food and drink. These are needed for one’s pilgrimage to the place of fulfilment, the place of full living. The Spirit is therefore given to those who have enough faith to turn to God in their hunger and thirst, whether physical or spiritual.

So now, at the climax of the festival Jesus takes the opportunity to show how the Feast of Tabernacles actually points to Him and His promise. Perhaps His words in a modern context would go something like this:

“Let all who are thirsty come to me and drink. Those who believe in me, the One who possesses and gives the Living Water — if they truly believe — will come to me for what only I can give. As many promises in Scripture testify, they shall drink from an unending flow of Living Water. And from them, therefore, in turn, shall flow rivers of this Living Water. They shall be the channels of My Living Water to the end of the earth.”

Jesus would have been aware of an old rabbinic teaching which may have been in His mind.

“When the disciple is like a well, just as from the well flows
 out living water on all sides, so from that disciple will come
 forth disciples and their disciples.”

What a magnificent description of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church at Pentecost.

Note from New American Bible

“Living Water”

—    Not an exact quotation from any Old Testament passage;

—    In the Gospel content, the Gift of the Spirit is meant;

—    Compare with John 3: 5.

“From within him”

—    Either Jesus or the believer;

—    If Jesus, it continues the Jesus-Moses motif:—

●    water from the rock (Ex.17: 6); (Num. 20: 11);

●    as well as Jesus as the new temple (compare
                                                                        Ezekiel 47: 1).

Grammatically, it goes better with the believer.

Some may wonder how true it is that Living Water, the gift of Jesus Christ, will flow from the disciples of Christ. Why not direct from the Lord himself? Why via others? This is the mystery of the Church, Christ’s body, of which He is the Head. As He Himself was to teach, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me (and I in them) bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 5). It is God’s way that we will be the living network by which God will bring others into contact with Him, and provide the spiritual nourishment for which they are, in fact, starving.

Verse 39

“He said this in reference to the Spirit that those
  who came to believe in him were to receive.”

Notice that while our Lord did not, at the Feast of Tabernacles, actually mention the Holy Spirit, St. John interprets Jesus’ words for us and makes sure we get the link. He therefore writes:

“He said this in reference to the Spirit that those
  who came to believe in him were to receive.”

Just as the words of Jesus were always the words of the
Father (John14: 10), so the Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus
will give forth the living words of the Lord Jesus. These
are the life-giving water within the believer, which will
flow out to all who know they have need for it. This is a
promise given by the Lord Himself. Far from usurping
the role of Jesus, such disciples are the means by which
He extends His Kingdom throughout this beautiful but
troubled world.

 

Conclusion

However we explain this amazing passage to other people, the fact will always remain that each of us is a link in the network of Christ’s Body, the Church, throughout our society. As is often said, “There is nowhere to hide.” Every disciple is a part of the imagery our Lord presents here; is a part of the river He is talking about. But note it is no ordinary river — in fact He is talking of the rivers — plural! Our Lord is talking about LIFE, and it will flow out from His disciples in all dimensions. In sharing our Faith with others, we will often be quite unaware of the spiritual outflow to others. It is easy to become preoccupied with methods: how can we spread the faith in an unbelieving world? Our Lord, here, offers His approach as a starting point: “Believe in me and rivers of living water will flow from within you.”

Quite a promise!

Shalom!

 

Further Reading

For those who would like a detailed study resource
on the readings for Sunday, please visit:

Agape Bible Study — Pentecost Sunday ― Year C

If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.

To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:

www.agapebiblestudy.com

This website is highly recommended:

 

“Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature”

(Mark 16: 15)

The real Jesus, is the real answer to the real needs of the world!

Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in
doing so, remain close to Him. The following are only examples
illustrating how you can note the gems the Holy Spirit highlights
for your on-going reflection.

 

 Rivers of Living Water  

Pentecost Sunday    Year C          John 7: 37 — 39

 1.   Our Lord chose the Festival of Tabernacles in which to prophesy regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit. This festival, in addition to celebrating the conclusion of the harvest, also celebrated the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt. Thus Jesus was laying a foundation for His disciples to celebrate likewise, what they had been freed from — what they had been freed by — and what they had been freed for. The early Church built that understanding into its worship. We too can benefit from recalling what He achieved for us.

2.   Our Lord is generous in His offer of spiritual nourishment. “Let anyone who thirsts come to me for a drink.” If we respond to Him as He invites, and genuinely believe in Him and what He teaches, His gift will be ours.

3.   Disciples of the Lord will always be encouraged by His choice that they should be His chosen channel of outreach to others. As believing members of His Vine, His Body — the Church, we remain closely linked to Him and His on-going gift of the Holy Spirit.

       Let us pray for one another that we will, collectively, bear testimony to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in the whole Body of Jesus Christ — the Church — and in each of His members.

Shalom.

 Click here for a printable copy of these Reflections

 

Luke 7: 37 — 39

 Pentecost Sunday               Year C

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

37.   13 On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood
        up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me
        and drink.

38.   Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of
        living water 14 will flow from within him.'”

39.   He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who
        came to believe in him were to receive. There was,
        of course, no Spirit yet, 15 because Jesus had not yet
        been glorified.

13 [37,39] Promise of living water through the Spirit.

14 [38] Living water: not an exact quotation from any Old Testament passage; in the gospel context the gift of the Spirit is meant; cf John 3:5. From within him: either Jesus or the believer; if Jesus, it continues the Jesus-Moses motif (water from the rock, Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11) as well as Jesus as the new temple (cf Ezekiel 47:1). Grammatically, it goes better with the believer.

15 [39] No Spirit yet: Codex Vaticanus and early Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions add “given.” In this gospel, the sending of the Spirit cannot take place until Jesus’ glorification through his death, resurrection, and ascension; cf John 20:22.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine,
Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner.
All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced
in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

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