Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday – 11th June 2021 — Gospel: Jn 19,31-37
Birth of First Sacraments
It is interesting to notice that the Roman soldiers did not do what they were commanded to do – break the victims’ legs, rather they did do what they were not supposed to do – pierce the Saviour’s side. In this way, they fulfilled the very Word of God. The bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken (Ex 12,46; Num 9,12; Ps 34,20), so Jesus’ bones were protected by the Lord. His side was to be pierced (Zech 12,10), so one of the soldiers did that. John saw a special significance to the blood and water that came from the wound in the side. For one thing, it proved that Jesus had a real body (1 Jn 1,1-4) and experienced a real death. There was also a symbolic meaning: the blood speaks of our justification, the water of our sanctification and cleansing. The blood takes care of the guilt of sin; the water deals with the stain of sin. The Church and her first sacraments were born at this moment from Christ’s side, just as a baby is born with a gush of water and blood: the waters of baptism to cleanse us from sin and the blood of the New Covenant to nourish us.
The flood of water that flowed from Christ’s side was prefigured by the flood in Genesis that washed away the sin of the world (Gen 7). The water that flowed is the same water that flowed when Moses struck the rock at Horeb, giving drink to the thirsty Israelites wandering in the desert (Ex 17,6). This water that flowed was living water, the same living water that is a “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4,14). This water of life became the waters of baptism, from which we are born of water and spirit: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Jn 3,6). In the same way, the blood that flowed from Christ’s side is the blood of the New Covenant. In fact, Christ’s blood ratifies and seals this covenant. Letter to the Hebrews explains that Christ secures our salvation by becoming both the priest and sacrifice of this New Covenant (Heb 9,11-15). He goes on to establish Jesus as the “mediator of a new covenant” (Heb 9,15). When we eat and drink the holy sacrifice of his Body, we are participating in the altar of the covenant (1 Cor 10,16-18). In this sacrament, we are purified of our sin and imbued with God’s spirit.