Please God, more Scriptural and Patristic sources will be added to the present “rant style” meditations when circumstances at Holy Souls Hermitage aren’t quite so utterly barbaric.
The purpose of this first run through these mysteries is to note especially the goodness and kindness of Jesus amidst the violence and chaos back in the day… and today. Hang on, it might be a bit of a rough ride, as rough and tumble as we focus on, in this post, the crucifixion and death of Jesus.
There is so very much material. I will only comment on this round through the mysteries just one aspect of this fifth sorrowful mystery, that which refers to the piercing of the side, of the Heart of Jesus as He hung there, already dead, on the cross.
I highly recommend reading psalm 22 in its entirety. Jesus quotes the first verse of this psalm on the cross, you know, this exclamation: “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me!” That’s a prayer of union with the Father. If you need proof, read the psalm! There are many other aspects of this psalm which are reflected in the Gospels, such as the casting of lots for His robe. It is like watching the scene on Calvary unfold, but with such love and childlike trust in God by the one who is being crucified…
Anyway, here’s what John writes about the piercing:
John 19,34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe. [rsv] 36 For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: [...] 37 “They will look upon him whom they have pierced.” [nab]
John is looking to Psalm 22, where we read about the perspective of the One who is crucified. He counts as dogs those who are crucifying Him. We have seen mention of dogs before, regarding the apostles and the Gentiles in the account of the “Dog-Woman”. In this scene of Psalm 22, the One who is crucified is still alive. They have not yet pierced His side, His Heart:
Psalm 22,16 Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet – 17 I can count all my bones — they stare and gloat over me. [rsv]
John was also surely thinking of Zechariah, where the One who has been crucified has died:
Zechariah 12,10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have thrust through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a first-born. [...] 13,1 On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness. [nab]
Later still, in the Apocalypse, written after the crucifixion of Jesus, we read this:
Revelation 1,7 Behold! He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. All the peoples of the earth will lament Him. Yes. Amen. 8 “I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
As I write this, it is Holy Saturday. Those who have witnessed the piercing of Jesus continue to look upon those images, either gloating or in traumatic solidarity, but look they do, to their condemnation or sanctification. If we feel the least bit unworthy even to know about all these things, it is all for our sanctification.
All the sacraments gush forth from the side, the Heart of Christ Jesus. His will to save us is the very Sacrifice of the Mass, and all things are ordered to His drawing us to Himself in this way, as He is lifted up on the Cross.
The Catholic Church, founded by Jesus, who provided us with the sacraments, is not a set of buildings or a bureaucracy. It is, as all families, a hierarchical family, a family of faith, dedicated to bringing people to Jesus by way of the sacraments He brought to us. Sure, there is catechesis and preaching and teaching and governing and encouraging and correcting and loving… What else does one expect in a family?! But, let’s be clear: it’s all about Jesus. Damned are we in we present anything less than Christ and Him crucified.
Jesus loves us so very, very much. I’ll say it again: He took on what we deserve to have the right in all justice to have mercy on us. He loves us so very, very much.
Now, let’s look at that scene again. Mary is looking at us. She sees Christ, who has been pierced, within us by grace, does she not? She is looking for us to be in solidarity with her, with Jesus, is she not? She looking to us. We look to her. We all have Jesus, His grace, pierced through, before us all: