The Wounds of Jesus and the Sacraments

DurerA baptismal homily of St. John Chrysostom (+407) notes that Jesus is already dead when the soldier comes to pierce his side; he is still on the cross. From his wounds the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist are given to his church.

Water comes forth and then the blood, Chrysostom says, "because first comes baptism and then the mysteries (the Eucharist)." With his spear, the soldier pierced the temple wall, the saint goes on, "but I am the one who finds the treasure and gets the wealth." (cf. John 2,19)

From the sacraments the church is formed, the saint continues. Like Adam, who was cast into a deep sleep to form Eve, Christ dies the sleep of death and from his side the church is taken. "From his side Christ formed the church just as he formed Eve from the side of Adam." (Baptismal Homilies, 3,16-18) Many early commentators share his interpretation.

In an early baptismal homily preached in the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem constructed by the Emperor Constantine atop of the remains of Calvary and the newly discovered tomb of Jesus, Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem (+387), says: "... you descended three times into the water and ascended, showing the symbol of the three days of Christ's burial... How kind and loving! Christ received nails in his hands and feet, while I without pain and trials receive freely a gift of salvation because I share in his suffering."

In a multitude of ways, the wounds of Christ so prominently portrayed in John's Gospel entered into the catechesis, preaching and devotions of the Christian church.

right: print by Albrech Dürer. Note the use of the grouping at the foot of the cross described in the Gospel of John; note also Adam's skull at the bottom of the cross

 

The wounds of Christ in art

Sign of the Passion
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