“One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out” (John 19:34).
The Passion According to St. John is always read on Good Friday. It gives us a perspective on the death of Jesus that reminds us that it wasn’t simply a tragic occurrence in the life of a good man. It was the culmination of the earthly ministry of the Son of God, his hour of glorification, that moment when heaven and earth are joined and the life of Christ became the ongoing life of the Church. For St. Francis, meditating on the Passion was not some medieval exercise in masochism but a means of uniting himself completely to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, a way of living so thoroughly into the mystery of Christ that he was able to lead others into this mystery.
He wrote in his Testament:
And God inspired me with such faith in his churches that I used to pray with all simplicity, saying, “We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches in the whole world, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
Francis’s conversion began with his prayer before the cross of the ruined chapel of San Damiano and culminated in his experience of the stigmata on Mount La Verna. As we journey with him, he brings us always to the cross and to Christ.
—from the book Lent with St. Francis: Daily Reflections
by Diane M. Houdek