Living water (3): a Covenant founded upon better promises

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 third and last of them.

An icon of Jesus as the living bread

An icon of Jesus as the living bread

In the first post, we saw that the “living water” is a reference to the rock cloven in two by Moses during the Exodus. In the second post, we found however that this living water belongs to a New Covenant, better than the Covenant of Moses, because the living water of Christ never fails.

Just as the living water does not fail, so too the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that the sacrifice of Christ, unlike the sacrifices of the Temple, does not have to be renewed, because it is “founded upon better promises” (Heb 9:23-26).

St John Chrysostom commented on this passage,

HE is our High Priest, who offered the sacrifice that cleanses us. That we offer now also, which was then offered, which cannot be exhausted.

Homily XVII On Hebrews (Heb 9:24-26). Translation from CCEL.

And St Nicholas Cabasilas wrote,

THE Lamb of God was sacrificed once only, for all time

[I]t is not necessary that there should be numerous oblations of the Lord’s body. Since the sacrifice consists, not in the real and bloody immolation of the Lamb, but in the transformation of the bread into the sacrificed Lamb, it is obvious the the transformation takes place without the bloody immolation.

Thus, though that which is changed is many, and the transformation takes place many times, yet nothing prevents the reality into which it is transformed from being one and the same thing always — a single Body, and the unique sacrifice of that Body.

Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, §32. Translation by J.M. Hussey and P. McNulty.

The theme of something unfailing, something inexhaustible, that does not have to be repeated because it is “the same yesterday, today and forever”, lies at the heart of the New Covenant.

So we can see that in calling out to the Panagia as “never-failing spring of the living Water”, we are touching on truly profound mysteries of the Christian faith and the Divine Liturgy.

This becomes even clearer when we look upon the Revelation of St John as a vision of the Divine Liturgy (do listen to this truly absorbing lecture, via ‘Sowing Seeds of Orthodoxy’, which explains the background).

Considering these lines from the Revelation with this in mind, we complete our journey from the Akathist and the icon of the Mother of God, by finding ourselves before the Royal Doors.

THEY shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Rev 7:16-17, cf. 22:1-3.


One thought on “Living water (3): a Covenant founded upon better promises

  1. Pingback: Living water (1): A well springing up into everlasting life « Απόψεις για τη Μονή Βατοπαιδίου (και όχι μόνο)

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