Blood and Water---- Beloved, Do Not Pass Over This Mystery Without Thought
George over at Path of the Weis has an interesting post regarding his discovery of the Catholic and historic meaning of the water and blood that flowed from Christ's side after the piercing by the centurion's sword. (Thanks George!)
This got me thinking about how the Church has richly viewed each and every aspect of the life of Christ, and in this case, the Passion of Christ. As a Protestant, I sung about the cross, marveled at the blood shed for my sins thanked Jesus for saving me and then kinda moved on, or passed over any significance beyond that. Certainly the redemption of man through His blood is the most significant reality but the Catholic Church focuses on every aspect of that passion in great detail, being lead by the Spirit to discover everything there is to understand about these gospel events.
The early Christians wrote extensively about the crucifixion and what these events meant.
St Chrysostom(347-407 AD) of the early fifth century tells us that the early Christians viewed the water and blood as pointing to the the Sacraments of the Eucharist and baptism. Again, this resonates with my last post regarding the importance of baptism to the early believers.
“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 symbolized 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."
Also, this view of the passion of Christ points to the idea that the Church was very important to the believing body of Christ. The idea of Christ giving birth to his Church was so key to the early Christians because they were united to this one body and hence were "in Christ." There was no concept of "me and Jesus." It was more like: "Me and the Church Jesus gave me that unites me to Him through his death which I experienced through baptism and the nourishment he gives me in his body and blood (the Eucharist)"
Here You Go Again, You Catholics are always talking about the Church, what about Jesus?
The early believers did not juxtapose Jesus and the Church. They were not pitted against another as happened after the reformation. It was a non-issue, and in the context of history at the time, impossible to consider. The Church was mentioned 111 times in the New Testament (KJV version) mentioned by Jesus, Peter, Luke, Paul, John and James.