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Striking Water From The Rock

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Massah and Meribah (Exodus 15:22-26)is the place of testing and contention.  Israel has just been saved from the Egyptians by passage through the Red Sea.  In the desert, they experience the absence of water that they did not lack in the land of Pharaoh.  They murmur, they begin to question:  “Is the Lord with us, or not?”  “Meribah” means contention:  they argue among themselves and with Moses.  “Massah” meants “testing”; they try the patience of the Lord.

And yet it is also the place where God for the first time gives them a sign that He is Immanu-El, the God-With-Us.  He commands Moses to strike the Rock so that water would gush forth from it.  St. Paul reflecting on this incident centuries later would write:

(O)ur forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman who seeks the water that gushes forth to eternal life without knowing it.  By engaging her in an encounter, Jesus makes her realize that her need for water runs deeper than mere physical thirst.  In fact, her life — marked by irregular and temporary relationships on the one hand, and shame and loneliness on the other (she gets water at noon!) — testifies to her empty existence.  Towards the end of the meeting, the woman leaves behind her jar — the jar she had wanted to fill with perishable water — and goes off to town, having found the source of water that forever quenches the thirst of men.

In John 7:37, Jesus cries out:  “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”  Christians are called to strike the Rock so that water can gush forth for the deserts of the world.  Moses — the one drawn from the water — is a type of all Christians who have been drawn from the waters of baptism.  Like Moses, Christians are asked to lead thirsty humanity to the Rock that they might also be refreshed from Christ.

Originally posted 2005-02-26 05:56:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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