… one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.
*** Warning – heavy duty Catholic stuff coming up 🙂 ***
Not being a cradle Catholic, I was unaware of the significance of this line of the passage to many Catholics … the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From the early days of the church, this passage has had significance.
Augustine wrote …
“The second Adam with bowed head slept on the cross, in order that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from His side as He slept. Death, by which the dead come to life again! What could be more cleansing than His blood? What more healing than this wound?” (Treatise on John, IX, 10).
John Chrysostom also commented …
“Blood and water at once flowed out of the wound. It is not by mere chance or unwittingly that these two fountains sprang up at this juncture. It is because blood and water are two constitutive elements of the Church. Those already admitted to the sacred rites know this well; those, I mean, who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and who in the Eucharist feed on Christ�s flesh and blood. It is to this one source that all the Christian mysteries trace back their origin. And so when you apply your lips to this awesome cup, do it as though you drank that precious Blood from the open side of Christ Himself” (Homily on John, 85).
In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales gives the foundation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:
“God’s love is seated within the Savior’s Heart as on a royal throne. He beholds through the cleft of His pierced side all the hearts of the children of men. His Heart is King of Hearts, and He keeps His eyes fixed on our hearts. Just as those who peer through a lattice see clearly while they themselves are only half seen, so too the divine love within that Heart, or rather that Heart of divine love, always sees our hearts and looks on them with His eyes of love, while we do not see Him, but half see Him. If we could see Him as He is, O God, since we are mortal men we would die for love of Him, just as when He was in mortal flesh He died for us, and just as He would still die for us were He not now immortal” (Quoted in Heart of the Redeemer, p.118).
The most well-known example of the devotion of the Sacred Heart is that of the apparitions of Margaret Mary Alacoque, occurring between 1673 and 1675, in which Jesus, among other things, revealed the image of his sacred heart that’s depicted in statues, paintings and icons: His pierced heart, on fire with love, crowned with the cross and enfolded with the crown of thorns.