I’ve been exploring the fascinating Biblical allusions to be found in the Canon of the Akathist. The line I’m looking at now is
HAIL, Sovereign Lady, never failing spring of the living Water.
This has proved such a rich source of reflection for me, that I have made it into three posts. This is the second of them.
In the previous post, we saw that the “living water” is a reference to the rock cloven in two by Moses during the Exodus, yielding water for the Israelites alongside the manna, their bread from heaven.
In the life of Christ, the Exodus is being retrodden, we said, and the Covenant is being rewritten. And as we look further into the “living water”, we find that this fresh Covenant is better than the Covenant of Moses (see Jer 31:31-34), because it does not fade or need renewal.
In Sirach 24, we find Divine Wisdom saying:
COME unto me, all ye that be desirous of me, and fill yourselves with my fruits. For my memorial is sweeter than honey, and mine inheritance than the honeycomb. They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be thirsty.
Such is divine Wisdom — as mediated to us through the Covenant with Moses, that is.
ALL these things are the book of the covenant of the most high God, even the law which Moses commanded for an heritage unto the congregations of Jacob.
But Christ the incarnate Wisdom indicates that the Covenant delivered to Jacob has been bettered.
The woman at the well (known to the Orthodox tradition as Photini) to whom Jesus offers “living water” says,
ART thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The Old Covenant, symbolised by Jacob, is marked by the need for constant renewal.
But the living water does not have to be renewed, just as the bread of heaven does not have to be renewed.
AND Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
The living water and the heavenly bread of Christ are not constantly renewed, because the Covenant of Christ is superior — his mercy, his forgiveness and all his gifts are utterly inexhaustible.
In the final post, we’ll look at how this mystery of the Panagia leads into the Divine Liturgy.
YOU hold the bowl of inexhaustible gifts, grant that I may draw water for the forgiveness of sins; for I am afflicted with thirst, O only compassionate and pitying.
Exapostilarion on the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost. Translation from Anastasis.