Good Friday: The Church Born From the Wounded Side of Christ Pauses at the Cross
Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty he sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride.
P>CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - "But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water" (John 19:33)
This is the Friday we call Good. This is the day when the whole world stands still. We recall the great Sacrifice offered on the second tree on Golgotha's Hill. There, the one St. Paul calls the New Adam (1 Cor.15), in the perfect obedience of love, did for us what we could not do on our own. There, Heaven was wed to earth. There, we were freed from the power of sin and death. There, we learn the Way of Crucified Love.
The mystery of the passion and crucifixion of the Lord has birthed some of the most profound reflections in the Christian Tradition. In Churches throughout the world, during the hours of 12:00 - 3: 00 p.m., devotions such as the stations or way of the cross and reflections on the last seven words of Jesus will draw the faithful more deeply into the meaning of this self emptying of Love Incarnate on the Altar of the Cross.
This evening, I will join our priest in the starkly beautiful liturgy of the Lord's Passion and the Veneration of the Holy Cross, crying out "Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the Salvation of the World" to which the faithful respond, "Come, Let us Worship." Of course, worship is the only fitting response in the face of such an act of Love.
The older I get the more profound this experience becomes. We walk into a sanctuary stripped of all altar cloths, the tabernacle emptied of the consecrated Eucharist and, upon reaching the altar in silence; we lay prostrate on the floor in an act that is both a sign of surrendered love and an expression of holy fear and awe in the face of the mystery.
Each year, as I feel the cold floor through my vestments, I am drawn back to the moment in my ordination to the diaconate in Christ when I laid prostrate. I am compelled to once again give my "Fiat" (yes) , my "totus tuus" (totally yours) to the Crucified One who climbed that tree out of Love for the whole human race.
As I reflect on the mystery of this moment on this Friday we call Good, I am drawn back to some profound insights from the early fathers of the Church on the mystery we commemorate. They are based on that one line from the passion narrative with which I began "one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water."
Origen wrote "Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty he sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His Side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His Bride."
The great "golden mouth" Bishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom in his instructions to the early Christians taught , "The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy Eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord's side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own."
"There flowed from his side water and blood." Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, "the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit," and from the holy Eucharist".
"Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: "Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!" As God then took a rib from Adam's side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death."
"Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life."
This insight concerning the relationship between the Church,Christ and the Cross is woven throughout the sacred tradition. The great Western Bishop, St Augustine wrote "There it was that the gate of life was opened, from there the sacraments of the Church flow; without these one does not enter true life."
The Fathers of the last great ecumenical council, Vatican II, in their Constitution on the Church, Light to the Nations, explained "The Church grows visibly through the power of God in the world. The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus."
Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born from the wounded side of the Savior. He betroths her in His great self emptying on the Altar of the Cross. Through her Sacraments, Jesus, the head of the Body, continues to feed us all with the divine life we need to enter more fully into the new communion which is ours through this saving Paschal mystery.
As the solemn commemoration of the Lord's Passion continues we have an extended time of intercessory prayer. We join the needs of the whole world to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God who offered Himself on that second tree to begin a new creation. We come forward to venerate His feet with our kiss. Then, we receive Him in the consecrated host from yesterday's Holy Thursday Mass. Then, silently, we leave to wait by the Tomb and ponder the Mystery of Crucified Love.
Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for JANUARY 2018
Religious Minorities in Asia. That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian countries, may be able to practise their faith in full freedom.
More Lent & Easter
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'
Easter / Lent News
While Easter is a Solemnity and an octave feast, it is also a 50 day season until Pentecost.The Season of Easter is not just about His ... continue reading
What lesson is the Lord teaching us by keeping his wounds intact? Perhaps we can better answer this question by turning to our own wounds. ... continue reading
As a teenager I ran into someone who introduced me to the finer points of the occupation. We fell into the tried and proven method of ... continue reading
Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence ... continue reading
Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- North and South Korea agree to march together at the Olympics with ...
- Daily Readings for Thursday, January 18, 2018
- St. Volusian: Saint of the Day for Thursday, January 18, 2018
- North and South Korea agree to march together at Olympics -- is that ...
- Daily Reading for Friday, January 19th, 2018 HD Video
- President Trump declares 'Religious Freedom Day'
- Pope Francis in Chile: the beatitudes are sources of hope!
- pictures of saints
- john the baptist
- saint anne
- hail holy queen
- saint elizabeth
- saint paul
- saint christopher
- st mary
- nicene creed
- our lady of guadalupe
- saint francis of assisi
- young children
- Saint Nicole
- st. michael
- saint francis
- CDC: Swine flu joining killer influenza outbreak, expected to become more severe HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, January 18th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, January 17th, 2018 HD
- Twitter Ban: Censorship on "a way of talking" -- does that include Christian speech? HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way