What is God telling us in Ezekiel 47:1-12, "The Wonderful Stream"?


I understood little of March 17th’s first reading, Ezekiel 47:1-12, and was hoping you would teach me what God is telling us in this passage, and what I am supposed to take from it personally. I was struck by how significant the author apparently intended the various lengths and depths to be (verses 3-6), something I have not found any comment explaining.

The Haydock commentary suggests it is a type for Baptism and the Church. The NABRE commentary suggests it is symbolic of paradise and good things coming for those then in exile.

I am browsing Bibliaclerus now for additional information. So far, I have found this excerpt of a homily from Pope Benedict XVI:

The other way in which we encounter water is in the form of the fresh spring that gives life, or the great river from which life comes forth. According to the earliest practice of the Church, Baptism had to be administered with water from a fresh spring. Without water there is no life. It is striking how much importance is attached to wells in Sacred Scripture. They are places from which life rises forth. Beside Jacob’s well, Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman of the new well, the water of true life. He reveals himself to her as the new, definitive Jacob, who opens up for humanity the well that is awaited: the inexhaustible source of life-giving water (cf. Jn 4,5-15). Saint John tells us that a soldier with a lance struck the side of Jesus, and from his open side – from his pierced heart – there came out blood and water (cf. Jn 19,34). The early Church saw in this a symbol of Baptism and Eucharist flowing from the pierced heart of Jesus. In his death, Jesus himself became the spring. The prophet Ezekiel saw a vision of the new Temple from which a spring issues forth that becomes a great life-giving river (cf. Ez 47,1-12). In a land which constantly suffered from drought and water shortage, this was a great vision of hope. Nascent Christianity understood: in Christ, this vision was fulfilled. He is the true, living Temple of God. He is the spring of living water. From him, the great river pours forth, which in Baptism renews the world and makes it fruitful; the great river of living water, his Gospel which makes the earth fertile. Jesus, however, prophesied something still greater. He said: “Whoever believes in me … out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (Jn 7,38). In Baptism, the Lord makes us not only persons of light, but also sources from which living water bursts forth. We all know people like that, who leave us somehow refreshed and renewed; people who are like a fountain of fresh spring water. We do not necessarily have to think of great saints like Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and so on, people through whom rivers of living water truly entered into human history. Thanks be to God, we find them constantly even in our daily lives: people who are like a spring. Certainly, we also know the opposite: people who spread around themselves an atmosphere like a stagnant pool of stale, or even poisoned water. Let us ask the Lord, who has given us the grace of Baptism, for the gift always to be sources of pure, fresh water, bubbling up from the fountain of his truth and his love!

And again, from another of his homilies:

Finally, let us take a brief look at the two communion antiphons which the Church offers us in her liturgy today. First there are the words with which Saint John concludes the account of Jesus’ crucifixion: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out” (Jn 19,34). The heart of Jesus is pierced by the spear. Once opened, it becomes a fountain: the water and the blood which stream forth recall the two fundamental sacraments by which the Church lives: Baptism and the Eucharist. From the Lord’s pierced side, from his open heart, there springs the living fountain which continues to well up over the centuries and which makes the Church. The open heart is the source of a new stream of life; here John was certainly also thinking of the prophecy of Ezechiel who saw flowing forth from the new temple a torrent bestowing fruitfulness and life (Ez 47): Jesus himself is the new temple, and his open heart is the source of a stream of new life which is communicated to us in Baptism and the Eucharist.

The liturgy of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus also permits another phrase, similar to this, to be used as the communion antiphon. It is taken from the Gospel of John: Whoever is thirsty, let him come to me. And let the one who believes in me drink. As the Scripture has said: “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (cf. Jn 7,37ff.) In faith we drink, so to speak, of the living water of God’s Word. In this way the believer himself becomes a wellspring which gives living water to the parched earth of history. We see this in the saints. We see this in Mary, that great woman of faith and love who has become in every generation a wellspring of faith, love and life. Every Christian and every priest should become, starting from Christ, a wellspring which gives life to others. We ought to be offering life-giving water to a parched and thirst world. Lord, we thank you because for our sake you opened your heart; because in your death and in your resurrection you became the source of life. Give us life, make us live from you as our source, and grant that we too may be sources, wellsprings capable of bestowing the water of life in our time. We thank you for the grace of the priestly ministry. Lord bless us, and bless all those who in our time are thirsty and continue to seek. Amen.


Also of note is a general audience from 2002:

  1. It is striking to observe even nations considered hostile to Israel going up to Jerusalem and to be welcomed not as foreigners but as “relatives”. Indeed, the Psalmist transforms the procession of these peoples towards Zion into a choral song and a joyful dance: they rediscover their “source” (cf. Ps 87,7) in the city of God from which a river of living water flows that makes the whole world fruitful, in line with what the prophets proclaimed (cf. Ez 47,1-12 Za 13,1 Za 14,8 Ap 22,1-2).




I understood little of March 17th’s first reading, Ezekiel 47:1-12, and was hoping you would teach me what God is telling us in this passage, and what I am supposed to take from it personally. I was struck by how significant the author apparently intended the various lengths and depths to be (verses 3-6), something I have not found any comment explaining.

The end of Ezekiel (starting in Ezekiel 40) is about Ezekiel’s vision of the rebuilding of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel 47:1-12 is a continuation of this description.

In Roman Catholicism, the Church would consider itself as the Third Temple. It should be noted, however, that the physical Third Temple is being prepared right now in the land of Israel to be rebuilt. In fact, the Temple Institute in Jerusalem has already made many of the preparations for this Third Temple, including the creation of a large Menorah and many of the sacred vestments and instruments to be used by the priests in accordance with Mosaic Law (the Torah, or first five books of the Bible).


Interesting but where exactly are they planning to build it, where the dome of the rock stands?


John seems to have had much the same vision in Revelation 22:1-2:
1 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1137, refers to that river as “one of the most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit” and references Revelation 21:6: 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life.
and John 4:10-14:
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 7:37-39 seems to confirm this identification:
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.


Interesting but where exactly are they planning to build it, where the dome of the rock stands?

Some have stated that it could be built alongside the Dome of the Rock. Other say that the Muslims will agree to rebuild the Temple and replace the Dome of the Rock when the Messiah comes. At this stage, given the current tension and turmoil in the region, it’s anyone’s guess as to how this will actually happen. The Temple Institute, however, continues to make ongoing preparations.


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