By Kevin Burke, LSW
The blessed reversal of Roe V Wade by the Supreme court occurred on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 24th 2022. This provides the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into the mystery of this great feast with the help of theologian Brant Pitre.
Pitre shares in his Holy Week reflections that the Apostle John went out of his way to make it crystal clear that he, John, was an eyewitness to the piercing of the heart of Jesus after his death, and to the blood and water that flowed from His side. From John’s Gospel:
The one who saw it has testified to this, and his testimony is true. He knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.
– John 19, 35
One reason given for this testimony is to assure the reader that this Jesus, who would rise three days later, did in fact physically die on that Good Friday.
But Brant Pitre proposes another reason for John’s very personal testimony of his witness to the blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus.
Luke’s Gospel tells us, “On [Thursday of Holy Week] the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare for us to eat the Passover.’ ”
Part of this preparation required the two apostles to purchase a Passover lamb, and take it to the Temple to be sacrificed. Thousands of Jews from across the region would have been visiting Jerusalem to do the same. That meant thousands of lambs sacrificed on that day, and many gallons of blood that must be drained from the animals as they are slaughtered and prepared for sacrifice.
Wadi Kidron (Brook Kidron) is a creek bed that runs downhill from the east side of the old Temple eastern wall. The blood of the Passover lambs drained out the side of the Temple, mingling with the waters of the Kidron brook on route to the Dead Sea. Peter and John would have crossed this bloodied stream as they approached the Temple.
After the blood was spilled on the altar of sacrifice, Peter and John would have prepared the flesh of the lamb for the Passover meal in the Upper Room. The same Passover meal where Jesus would initiate the New Covenant in His Body and Blood.
As the hour came for Jesus to begin his time of betrayal and suffering, He would have crossed over this same Kidron Brook as they made their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. This same brook where King David wept facing the betrayal by his friend Absalom, who was trying to kill him.
With this background, we can see how the apostle John was likely communicating something profound, that his Jewish readers would well understand.
Blood and water flowed from the side of the Temple during the sacrificial death of thousands of Lambs.
In Jesus, we behold the “Lamb of God,” the perfect sacrifice to the Father for the sins of the Human Family. But in Christ Jesus we also behold the New and Eternal Temple.
From the side of this New Temple, the blood and water of salvation flowed from His Sacred Heart, not just for the Jews, but for all people, now and forever, unto ages of ages, Amen.
Here’s an Original Song, Holy Heart, about the love of Christ for the human family.