On the Pierced Heart of Our Lord.
Jesus has yielded up His spirit; His weary head has sunk upon His breast, and at the same instant in which He drew His last breath the earth quaked, the rocks were rent and fell asunder, all nature mourned, and a thrill of fear and horror ran through the whole earth as a witness to the divinity of the Crucified, and a warning to man of the enormity of his crime. It was consummated; our Lord’s soul quitted His body, and all who heard the last cry of the expiring Redeemer, uttered in His death agony, trembled at the sound. But one of the soldiers who stood beneath the cross raised his spear and thrust it with such violence into the Saviour’s side, that forthwith there flowed therefrom blood and water. Hast Thou not suffered enough already, O persecuted Jesus! Why dost Thou permit Thy broken heart to be thus pierced by a cruel lance? Let us consider the reasons.
1st. Our Lord allows Himself to be tortured in every member of His sacred body, because man has sinned with every part of his body. He suffers His heart, hitherto unwounded, to be pierced with a lance, in order to make atonement for the sins all the members of the human race have committed in their heart, which is the seat of every corrupt thought and desire. It was the all-surpassing love of Christ that guided that lance. It was that divine charity that desired to expiate all our transgressions; it was that charity which resolved to shed His blood even to the last drop for our redemption. Our Lord willed to be the pelican who wounds her breast for the sake of her young; He willed to give His heart’s blood as a remedy for His people who had imbibed the fatal venom of the serpent. O blessed Jesus, wound my cold, sinful heart with the lance of Thy love that I too may feel the pain of that thrust, the pain of bitter but salutary compunction.
2d. Consider that our Lord suffered His heart to be opened by a spear, in order to indicate, as St. Augustine asserts, that now the portals of life are thrown open, through which the streams of divine grace flow down upon mankind. Yes, the riven heart of Jesus is the heavenly paradise; thither sick souls may go to obtain medicine for their spiritual maladies; and there devout souls may take refuge. Like timid doves they seek and find in the heart of Jesus, as in a sure hiding-place, protection from the spirits of hell, the infernal birds of prey. It is the mystic abode of pious souls, who say with St. Eleazar: “If you desire to find me, O my friends, seek for me in the wound of our Lord’s sacred side, for there you will surely find me.” Remember, my soul, that the Scripture says: “Where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.” (St. Matt. vi. 21.) Ask yourself whether the heart of Jesus is indeed your spiritual dwelling-place, whither you betake yourself for rest and refreshment in preference to any other, or whether you have treasures elsewhere, treasures to which your heart fondly clings, and thus the sacred heart of Jesus was pierced and opened for you in vain.
3d. Consider that as God took a rib out of Adam’s side when he was asleep in the Garden of Eden, and out of it formed Eve, the mother of our physical existence, so on this day the side of the second Adam, sleeping upon the cross, was opened in order that the Church, our spiritual Mother, may find therein the source whence she derives her life and vigor in the holy sacraments, which are symbolized by the blood and water flowing from the Saviour’s riven side. It is by the water of the holy sacraments that we are cleansed from our transgressions, and it is by the blood of Jesus that our souls are nourished and preserved to life eternal, pre-eminently in the adorable Sacrament of the Altar which was instituted on this day, and in which it flows continually. The soldier’s lance opened to us this perennial spring, whence the holy sacraments flow. Rise up then, my soul; go down this very day into the true pool of Siloe, cleanse yourself in its purifying, its healing waters, by virtue of which you may appear clean and whole on the approaching festival of Easter.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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