Friday, October 13, 2006

in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti

From Isaiah ch. 59:


19: So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives.
20: "And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the LORD.
21: "And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore."

Apart from revving up the base, these verses relate to what Jesus says to Nicodemus in John 3.5. In talking to Israel about the triumph of the new covenant, Isaiah compares the coming of the Lord to water driven by Spirit. The "rushing stream" is living, not inert and the same wind that blew across creation in Genesis and spoke to Samuel and Elijah forces that water to prepare the way of the Lord. Not only does this tie in with the prescription for being "born anew", it also is connected with the imagery of Psalm 42:

1: As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God.
2: My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?
3: My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me continually, "Where is your God?"
(skipping ahead...)
7: Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts; all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me.

The author of the psalm calls to life the imagery of our unconscious need, and unceasing search for water by comparing it to the deer chasing after flowing streams. Again, this is living water, and the living seek it. But water is also deeply connected with sorrow, suffering, and the feeling of abandonment. Tears are swallowed by the man who is mocked for his faith in a God that abandoned him. When this experience (the door between hope and despair) is endured with humility and patience, it is glorified by God who answers a simple need for "water" within the human heart by sending a flood of mercy. Deep calls to deep. IT swallows US. The flood of retribution has become, through Christ, the tide of salvation.

This is the same water that flowed from Christ's side, and it calls us to be formed anew in the womb of His heart. Our subconscious associates security with the intimate warmth of our initial environment of liquid darkness. The Gospel is an invitation to envelop ourselves in this new womb of Christ's love.

Edith Stein argued that the primary function of the created world was to serve as symbolic expression of that which is higher. Night, light, darkness, water, life and death - all things are mere shadows of what they are meant to describe. If we accept that this world will one day fall off us like a cocoon, this is a logical way to see things. In light of this, the imagery and characteristics of water first and foremost provide insight into the failure of man, and the redemption offered by God. This new covenant incorporates water and spirit as specific signs of God's offer and our act of acceptance.

Isaiah talks about the words of the new covenant being placed in the mouths of all who receive the spirit.

21: "And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore."

They came from the Word, with the water and we have them forever. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.







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