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Vol I No. 1
From the Quarterly

Second Friday in Lent: Thomas Aquinas with Commentary

by William J. Martin

the-Crucifixion1

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY LANCE AND THE NAILS OF OUR LORD

One of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.John xix. 34.

The gospel deliberately says opened and not wounded, because through Our Lord s side there was opened to us the gate of eternal life. After these things I looked, and behold a gate was opened in heaven (Apoc. iv. i). This is the door opened in the ark, through which enter the animals who will not perish in the flood.

 

Our Lord dies for us that His death might be shared with us. We cannot die the death that He died. But He invites us into its effects and merits. We do well to remember that while Christ was dying, He was as much living. This is to say that He was still alive to God and so alive to forgiveness and mercy, and to desire and hope for all men’s salvation. His side is opened as a way into new life. The way into this new life is through His death. We are rescued, saved, and delivered back to the Father through the unique suffering of the Son of Man and the Son of God. Through Christ’s side we find a way into Heaven, a way out of the flood waters of sin and death.

 

  1. But this door is the cause of our salvation.

 

We cannot be saved without the Cross and the Man hanging on it. Some people try to circumvent and run around the Cross into Heaven. But when they do this, they leave half of themselves behind. Suffering and death are part of human life. We might just as well get used to it. We cannot avoid it, no matter how it manifests itself. And if we are obeying God and doing His will, we must suffer and die in our bodies to the world, the flesh, and the devil. All sorts of pseudo-Christians run away from the Cross. Don’t they realize they are running away from themselves? The only way to new life is through death. This is true with learning and becoming better human beings, and this is most of all true with dying to sin and coming alive to righteousness. And all of this is done through souls that inhabit bodies. The deaths we die are felt along the lines of the body through the soul. If we are to be made right with God we had better start moving towards Christ’s Cross. Dying to the world, the flesh, the devil, and, most of all, ourselves is painful. Let us enter into Jesus’ death.

 

Immediately there came forth blood and water, a thing

truly miraculous, a dead body, in which

the blood congeals, blood should come forth.

 

It seems strange that Christ died so quickly. Crucifixion is normally a very long, draw-out process. Here Christ seems to not to be dying as the result of crucifixion as much as through His own willingness to lay down His life for His friends sooner rather than later. Jesus is intent upon laying down His life for us and so He dies all the sooner. Blood atones for man’s sins. Water washes them away. Blood and water are two distinct visible signs of a swift and premature death.

 

This was done to show that by the Passion of

Christ we receive a full absolution, an absolution

from every sin and every stain. We receive

this absolution from sin through that blood which

is the price of our redemption. You were not

redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver from

your vain conversation with the tradition of your fathers ;

but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb

unspotted and undefiled (i Pet. i. 18).

 

Jesus Christ is the Forgiveness of Sins made flesh. The Forgiveness of Sins is offered on Calvary Hill for all men in all ages. Entering into this Life, which is the Forgiveness of Sins, is an activity that can be only freely willed or chosen. It is offered as the way to new birth and new life. It is all-efficacious. It is the perfect expression of God’s love for man. Will we enter into this reality of blood sacrifice for our sins? Will we accept the forgiveness of our sins? Will Jesus death become our death and then begin to become new life in us as forgiveness? And in accepting forgiveness, will we be so moved and defined by it that we must forgive all men their trespasses against us? Will we see that we never deserve, merit, or earn this forgiveness? Will we be so overawed by its motions towards us that we cannot help but love and forgive the whole of mankind? ‘There to my sins was the blood applied. Glory to His name.’

 

We were absolved from every stain by the water,

which is the laver of our redemption. In the

prophet Ezechiel it is said, I will pour upon you clean

water, and you shall be cleaned from all your filthiness

(Ezech. xxxvi. 28), and in Zacharias, There shall

be a fountain open to the house of David and to the

inhabitants of Jerusalem for the washing of the sinner

and the unclean woman (Zach. xiii. i).

 

The blood atones for our sins. The water cleanses, laves, bathes, scalds, scours, and purifies

  1. We are beginning to come alive through the death of our Saviour. He has died. Out of His opened side flow blood and water. Sin is dead and we are being cleansed and prepared for the ongoing journey into new life. We are being refreshed and prepared for the more that is yet to come.

 

And so these two things may be thought of in

relation to two of the sacraments, the water to

baptism and the blood to the Holy Eucharist.

Or both may be referred to the Holy Eucharist

since, in the Mass, water is mixed with the wine.

Although the water is not of the substance of the

sacrament.

 

The celebrating priest washes his hands in water prior to the Consecration of the elements. The Chalice is filled with wine and water that quenches our spiritual and mystical thirst.

Water congealing with the Holy Spirit washes away Original Sin in Baptism. Water and

Wine come together, again in the Holy Eucharist, to quench the thirst of wayfaring pilgrims.

Water and wine become the spiritual drink that animates and quickens the members of Christ’s Mystical Body. We are incorporated into death that is becoming new life. We cannot live until we die. Now let us die and begin to come alive.

 

Again, as from the side of Christ asleep in death

on the cross there flowed that blood and water

in which the Church is consecrated, so from the

side of the sleeping Adam was formed the first

woman, who herself foreshadowed the Church.

 

Jesus Christ the Man is dead. But is the Word of God dead? Is His Divinity dead? No. Never. Christ the Man steps out of the way that Christ the Word may have the space to make us into His new Body and Bride. From His side we are being fashioned as His bride. All attention is now on the adornment of the Bride. The Bride who has died must brought back to life. Christ always puts our wellbeing before His own. The Bridegroom must leave us for a time that we may be readied for His return. Will we be made ready?

©wjsmartin