The Church Fathers, contemplating the passage of John when the soldier pierced Our Lord’s side on the cross, see the blood and water flowing form his side as symbolizing the birth of the Church, the sacrament of the Eucharist, and the sacrament of Baptism. The Church is born through the sacraments of initiation. In today’s First Reading the prophet Zechariah speaks of the pierced one, and a fountain being opened to purify from sin and uncleanness. The pierced one is Christ, and the fountain of baptism flows from his Cross.
Paul in today’s Second Reading describes those who have believed in Christ and been baptized as clothed in Christ. Their ethnicity, social status, and sex are now clothed with something that puts an end to any enmity between them: they now share communion with God and with each other through Christ. The pierced one on the cross has become that fountain from which every reconciliation is achievable when hearts are open to it.
Christ’s suffering and death powers the cleansing waters of baptism. He washes all our sins away with his blood, if we let him. If we follow him in times of peace, let’s also take to heart his teaching in today’s Gospel to take up our own crosses every day in order to follow him.
Readings: Zechariah 12:10–11, 13:1; Psalm 63:2–6, 8–9; Galatians 3:26–29; Luke 9:18–24. See also Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday, and 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.