Glorious Cross April 8
The precious blood flows freely from his heart . . . from his side. (Proper liturgy of the Crosiers, second Tuesday before Lent).
The last ritual act of Roman execution was to break the legs of those crucified in order to bring their deaths on more quickly. Unable to stay upright by the support of their legs, the dying criminals would suffocate. Because Jesus has already breathed his last before the soldier-assassins arrived, they did not break his legs. But one of them pierced his side with a lance as a final, death-dealing blow. In effect, the lance’s intention was to be a instrument of cruel compassion to send the condemned off to the afterlife. But the dead Christ was already in possession of the fullness of life. Piercing him through boomeranged on the lancer instead. The water and blood flowing from the side of Jesus became redemptive projectiles to pierce with compassion the heart of the lancer and give him life. The lance became sacramental, an object of grace! It pierced the lancer to take him from condemnation to eternal life. What compassion in reverse! What a final touch to the execution of Jesus!
In as much as you have not cut open the papaya, you do not know its flavor. (Lega)