St. John’s writes that when our Lord’s lifeless body hung on the Cross, a roman solider pierced His body with a lance: “…when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness, and his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth, that you also may believe.” (John 19:33 RSV).
The earliest Christians saw how this sacred Blood and water flowing out from the side of Christ was a symbol of the origin and growth of the Church herself. St. Ambrose, who was archbishop of Milan and one of the most influential bishops and theologians of the 4th century wrote about this, “As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the Cross.” Blood and water are signs of the Eucharistic mystery. The wine at the Eucharist becomes the sacred Blood of Christ. A small amount of water is added to the wine in the Chalice prior to the consecration. Water is consecrated and is the vehicle for baptism. Over Christian history the Church has been most heroic and unified and strong when she defends the faith in the face trials and even death. The death of Christians are the seeds of the Church’s life and future.
As the Kingdom of Christ present in the world, the Church continues the Lord’s ministry of teaching, conversion and repentance. Through the sacramental ministry of the Church the Cross is continually being lifted high for the purpose of drawing men and women of every age to Christ until He returns in glory!