“….Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee!” say the skeptics among the Pharisees (John 7:52), the same men who had inadvertently mouthed a prophecy (7:35) concerning the worldwide teaching ministry of Jesus which would indeed come about after His death, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven. How awesome this is, something we cannot fully grasp, as we experience now, two thousand years later, the first of the descendants of the Chair of Peter taking the humble name of Francis, and arising from a part of the world undreamed of by anyone in Judea or Rome back in Jesus’ day.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ 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.” (7:38, 39) This, as the Ignatius commentary points out, is not referring to a single scripture, but is a synthesis of at least three scriptures: Numbers 20:10-13; Ezekiel 47:1-12; and Zechariah 14:8,9,16. The rich imagery of the pouring out of water is obvious to those first hearers at this particular Feast of Tabernacles, because of the water-drawing ceremony on the great and final seventh day of the Feast.
When Jesus stands up and proclaims loudly that all should come to Him and drink, we might ask ourselves, what about that prophecy of Isaiah, “…He will not cry out” (Is.42:2)? St. Thomas Aquinas answers this question in his commentary on John’s gospel, when he refers us to Isaiah 6:3, Proverbs 8:1 and Isaiah 58:1, saying, “This is the way Christ cried out here, teaching in the temple.”
“So there was a division of the people over Him.” (7:43) And we see clearly that there was division among the Pharisees themselves when we hear Nicodemus, our friend from John 3, defending Jesus during this controversial and increasingly dangerous time (7:50-52). Is it not remarkable that the princes of the Church in our day, despite some divisions, were able to come to a decision concerning the election of our current Holy Father Francis in such a relatively short period of time? What a testimony to the powerful outpouring of the Spirit, which began in such a quiet way soon after Jesus’ Resurrection (John 20:20-23) !
As I write this, I am in San Antonio, Texas, for a few days of sunshine with my husband. Today we entered the San Fernando Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the U.S. (where, in fact, the bones of the heroes of the Alamo are entombed!) As is so typical of the Hispanic peoples, the statue of the Sacred Heart is a vividly-sculpted-and-painted one, visually evoking human emotion, and probably reflecting well the hearts of men and women who go to pray at the cathedral throughout the day. Jesus is still crying out, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink…..!” Blessings, JC