The book of Ezekiel is divided into two parts. The first part focuses on judgment and the second on restoration. The first part is about judgment against Judah and the glory of God leaving Jerusalem; the second part is about the glory of God returning to Jerusalem. That is why some have characterized the first part as “The Lord is not there” and the second as “The Lord is there.”
Today’s first reading belongs to the second part: the Lord is there in Jerusalem; the has returned to the temple in Jerusalem.
In many world religions, temples and places of worship are set on top of mountains just as the temple of Jerusalem sits atop Mt. Zion. Temples serve to connect earth and heaven, humans and God. And so our reading today tells that, after Judah had sinned, God forgave the Hebrews and so once again returns to the temple in Jerusalem. God is once again united with his people in his holy city.
The reading also mentions the four corners of the world – west and north, east and south. West is presumed when it says that the water is flowing towards the east. With the mention of the four cardinal directions, the reading considers the Jerusalem temple as the center of the world, axis mundi, the navel of the earth. Navel, of course, brings to mind the birth of a child. Water is a symbol for life and so “there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail.”
Today is the feast of the dedication of the Lateran basilica in Rome, the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, and, as such, “the mother and head of all churches of Rome and of the world.” Any cathedral and any church stand for the Church and the people of God.
The next time you enter a church, be aware that the Lord is indeed there, that the church is filled with God’s presence, if you have eyes of faith to see. May you also believe that, when you enter a church, you have a chance to be connected or re-connected with God.
May this encounter with God help you to grow in faith, hope and love and so exude energy, vitality and life.