Contemplating today's Gospel
Liturgic day: Sacred Heart of Jesus (B)
Gospel text (Jn 19:31-37):
As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so they might take away the bodies. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who had been crucified with Jesus.
When they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead; so they did not break his legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a lance and immediately there came out blood and water. The one who has seen here gives his witness so that you may believe: his witness is true and He knows that he speaks the truth. All this happened to fulfill the words of Scripture, 'Not one of his bones shall be broken'. Another text says: 'They shall look on him whom they have pierced'.
"One of the soldiers, however, pierced his
side with a lance"
side with a lance"
Today, before our very eyes —or better still before our interior eyes, illuminated by faith— is the figure of Christ who, having just died on the Cross, has had his side pierced by the Centurion's sword. "Immediately there came out blood and water" (Jn 19,34). What a distressing but at the same time eloquent sight! There is not even the slightest room for doubt: Jesus is 100% dead. What's more that mysterious "water" which would not have flowed out of a normal healthy body, would indicate, according to modern medicine, that Christ would
have died of a heart attack or what could even have been described as a burst heart. It is only in these cases that there occurs a separation of the serum and the red blood cells. This would explain the anomalous "blood and water".
Christ, therefore has truly died, and He has died because of our sins, for what He desired with most urgency, the cancellation of our sins. "With my death, I have defeated death and have exalted Man to the sublimity of Heaven" (Meliton of Sardis). God, who has kept to his promise of raising his Son from the dead, will also keep to his second promise: He will also raise us from the dead and will seat us at His right hand. He requires of us a minimum condition: to believe in Him and to allow ourselves be saved by Him. God never imposes himself on anybody. He fully respects human liberty.
Of that Man who's heart they stabbed "They will look upon the man whom they have pierced." The Apocalypse, too, confirms this: "Behold, he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him: and they also that pierced him." (Rev 1,7). This is a sacred requirement of divine justice: in the end even those who have obstinately rejected it will have recognise the truth. Even the self-idolising tyrant, the ruthless killer, the proud atheist... all of them without exception will feel
obliged to kneel down before Him, acknowledging him as the one and only true God. Isn't it more worthwhile to become friends with Him as of now.
Comment: Fr. Raimondo M. SORGIA Mannai OP (San Domenico di Fiesole,
Florencia, Italy) www.evangeli.net