Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Friday, April 06, 2007

Have a Good Friday

Today's office of readings is particularly poignant. Herewith from the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor (written in the 4th century):

“There flowed from his side water and blood”. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the Holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the Holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.

It seems fitting that on the only day of year when the Church does not celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist, that the Divine Office focuses on how that very mystery is manifest in Christ's work on the cross.

The blood and water which flowed from the side of Christ is the very same blood and water we consume at mass. It makes one long to receive the Eucharist under the species of water and wine. Alas, we will have to wait until Easter for that particular blessing. After all, Good Friday is a day of penance, fasting and sacrifice.

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