“As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying It; invoke Its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners, for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul.”

Many years ago, reading the Gospel account of the piercing of the Heart of Jesus on the Cross struck me very deeply indeed. It was something I contemplated at length and it remained with me. Much later, it was to bring me to the feet of the Merciful Lord in the Divine Mercy devotion, where I have remained.

Today, I have been pondering once more what it was on that Good Friday which made the Centurion, who had just pierced the Heart of Jesus with the lance, declare that “truly, this Man was the Son of God”. It seems a remarkable declaration to make, given what had just taken place that day and particularly considering the position of the Centurion and what he was there to do. So, what on earth could have caused him to make such a declaration? I think he was perhaps inspired by the grace of God.

The grace of God is always at work, often in ways that we are not able to fathom. Sometimes, it works in very subtle ways; and at other times, in quite explicit and instantaneous ways. At points throughout the Gospels, there are certain moments when the action of the grace of God is tangible, the effects visible – moments such as the Annunciation, the Transfiguration, the changing of water into wine, and the various cures of sick people. I wonder if the account of the Centurion piercing the Heart of Christ was such an occasion.

“..And at once, there came out Blood and Water..” (Jn 19:34)

Having pierced the Heart of Jesus with the lance, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Centurion would, at the very least, have been sprinkled with that Blood and Water. It flows from the Heart of the same Christ Who is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, which the Church calls “the Source and Summit” of our faith (‘Lumen Gentium’ 11). This Blessed Sacrament works miracles of grace every single day. So is it unreasonable to wonder if such a miracle of grace was wrought by the Blood and Water flowing from the pierced Heart of Christ on that first Good Friday? I wonder if something wonderful happened in that instant for the Centurion and as a result, he was changed in some deep manner, never to be the same man again. He was transformed by the grace of Christ Crucified.

In His revelations to St Margaret Mary Alacoque, which have been fully approved by the Church, the Lord Jesus made known His great desire to be loved by mankind; also, His desire that mankind makes reparation for sin; that this Heart “which has so loved men” is the Source and the infinite treasury of every grace and blessing.

Similarly, in His revelations to St Faustina, also fully approved by the Church, this same Lord Jesus expresses His desire that mankind adore and glorify His infinite mercy, issuing from that same Sacred Heart. He explains to her the symbolism of each of the two rays emanating from His Heart and these rays are integral to the Image of Divine Mercy revealed to St Faustina. Part of the Divine Mercy devotion revealed to her was the express desire of the Lord that at 3pm each day she – and, by extension, each of us – should spare a moment to consider the Passion of the Lord, His Sacrifice upon the Cross, and to plead for His mercy and grace for the entire world.

He asked specifically that the Stations of the Cross be made in that hour, or if this is not possible, that we take a moment to visit Him in the Tabernacle; or at the very least, that wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we stop and think of Him in His agony, if only for the briefest instant, asking His mercy.

Speaking of the importance of this Hour, He told St Faustina –

“It was the hour of grace for the whole world — mercy triumphed over justice…In this hour, you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking…In this hour, I will refuse nothing to the soul that makes a request of Me in virtue of My Passion”.

In the Diary written by St Faustina, the Lord speaks about the merit attached to contemplation on His holy Passion and His Death on Calvary. St Faustina records the Lord saying this –

“There are few souls who contemplate My Passion with true feeling; I give great graces to souls who meditate devoutly on My Passion. Without special help from Me, you are not even capable of accepting My graces.. There is more merit to one hour of meditation on My sorrowful Passion than there is to a whole year of flagellation that draws blood; the contemplation of My painful Wounds is of great profit to you, and it brings Me great joy.”

Perhaps in recommending to us the practice of the Hour of Mercy, He is giving us a way to sanctify ourselves anew each day by means of this holy remembrance, to benefit from that infinite treasury of grace and mercy which is contained in His pierced and Most Sacred Heart.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us – I trust in You.