A verse of John’s gospel … refers to a messianic prophecy of Zechariah: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19:37). The beloved disciple, present at Calvary together with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and some other women, was an eyewitness to the thrust of the lance that passed through Christ’s side, causing blood and water to flow forth (19:31-34). That gesture by an anonymous Roman soldier, destined to be lost in oblivion, remained impressed on the eyes and heart of the apostle, who takes it up in his gospel. How many conversions have come about down the centuries thanks to the eloquent message of love that the one who looks upon Jesus crucified receives?
In the encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est, I wished to emphasize that only by looking at Jesus dead on the cross for us can this fundamental truth be known and contemplated: “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16). “In this contemplation,” I wrote, “the Christian discovers the path along which his life and love must move” (12).
Contemplating the crucified One with the eyes of faith, we can understand in depth what sin is, how tragic is its gravity, and at the same time, how immense is the Lord’s power of forgiveness and mercy.
… Let us not distance our hearts from this mystery of profound humanity and lofty spirituality. Looking at Christ, we feel at the same time looked at by him. He whom we have pierced with our faults never tires of pouring out upon the world an inexhaustible torrent of merciful love.
May humankind understand that only from this font is it possible to draw the indispensable spiritual energy to build that peace and happiness which every human being continually seeks.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, pierced in spirit next to the cross of her Son, to obtain for us a solid faith…. May she help us to leave all that distances us from listening to Christ and his saving Word.
Angelus, February 25, 2007
Source: Pope Benedict XVI. (2009). The Joy of Knowing Christ: Meditations on the Gospels. Maryland: The Word Among Us Press