For the desert-dwelling Israelites, the image of a tree that is planted beside the flowing waters spoke of many things: life, security, refreshment, beauty, fruitfulness, peace. So meaningful was this symbol to the ancient Jews that in the very first psalm of the Psalter the inspired author used it to describe the saintly Hebrew — one whose life was rooted in loving and living the Law of God.


I have come not to abolish but to fulfill the law, declared Jesus of Nazareth. Matt. 5:17 For those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, this young Rabbi did seem to be one who pondered [God's] law day and night. But our Lord offered even more. Not only did He draw from the flowing waters of divine wisdom. He proclaimed that from the hearts of those who believed in Him would flow living water, and that they, like Him, would bear abundant fruit. cf John 7:38; 15:8


Then came the stumbling block — the Cross. The law said plainly: Cursed is he who dies on a tree. Gal. 3:13; cf Deut. 21:23 But in the redemptive plan of God, the obedience of Christ transformed the ignominious tree of death into the new Tree of Life, rooted in the water flowing from the pierced Heart of Christ. cf John 19: 34 Since patristic times that life-giving stream has been seen as a symbol of Baptism, the flowing water which sanctifies the new People of God.


The saints, the "just ones" of the New Dispensation, are those who draw most deeply from the waters of their holy Baptism and become themselves dispensers of the flowing waters of the Spirit who dwells within them. Blessed is that religious, St. Francis of Assisi wrote, who has no pleasure and delight except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and, with these, leads people to the love of God with gladness and joy. ADMONITION 22


Ardent lover and imitator of the poor, crucified Christ, the Little Poor Man rooted his life in the mystery of the Cross. To a spiritually thirsty world, he was like a tree planted beside the flowing waters that yields its fruit in due season. His early biographer tells how Francis' prayer even drew forth, from a place where no water flowed, a stream of water to refresh the thirst of the peasant who had loaned him a donkey for the long trek to a mountain hermitage. cf Friar Thomas of Celano, THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE DESIRE OF A SOUL, 46


We who have been baptized have been plunged into the flowing waters of Redemption. The Spirit invites us to live our Baptismal consecration fully and deeply. For the desert-dwelling people of our spiritually parched age, we are called to be an oasis where they can find life, security, refreshment, beauty, fruitfulness and peace because like trees planted beside the flowing waters, we yield the fruits which are always in due season: charity, mercy, justice and joy.

 

 

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Psalm 1

 

Blessed indeed is the man
who follows not the counsel
of the wicked;
nor lingers in the way
of sinners nor
sits in the company of scorners,
but whose delight
is the law of the Lord
and who ponders His law
day and night.
He is like a tree that is planted
beside the flowing waters,
that yields its fruit
in due season
and whose leaves
shall never fade;
and all that
he does
shall prosper.
A Not so are the wicked, not so!
For they
like winnowed chaff
shall be driven away
by the wind.
When the wicked are judged
they shall not stand,
nor find room
among those who are just;
for the Lord
guards the way of the just
but the way of the wicked
leads to doom.

The Flowing Waters
PART 18