Thursday, November 10, 2005

Vidi Aquam

By Mitchell

The first reading in yesterday's Mass to commemorate the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica came from Ezekiel 47:

1. Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.

Clearly the temple is Christ Himself, as becomes more apparent when read in context with John's Gospel. (2:19-21; "Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he spoke of the temple of his body.")

I've always had a fondness for this passage, mostly because of its use as the basis for the Vidi Aquam, the Asperges used in the Mass during Eastertime. And it is here, in the much-maligned English translation of the Tridentine liturgy, that Ezekiel's allusion to Christ becomes much more apparent:

I saw water flowing from the temple, from the right side, alleluia; and all those to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say: alleliua, alleluia.

The Vidi Aquam survives in the Novus Ordo, but in a much more ham-fisted translation that loses not a little of the beauty of that passage. But regardless, this section shows once again the prefigurement of Christ in the Old Testament, and how the New Testament exists as a fulfillment of the Old. It remains a pity that many Christians choose to ignore the Old Testament, or at least give it short shrift.

But then, in a society that seems to see little value in the past (other than as a marketing tool for selling nostalgia), and seeks even to kill those whose old age makes them a burden, can we be surprised?

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