John 19:34, from the Gospel reading at the Liturgy of the Passion.
"Pierced" is the accurate translation, but throughout the Church's reflection on the Passion, attention has been drawn to the close resemblance in Greek to the phrase 'to open'. So close, in fact, that a word play - based on phonetic resemblance - does seem to be occurring. The Latin translation of John known to Augustine read "one of the soldiers with a spear laid open His side". For Augustine, this leads us into a beautiful reflection on the meaning of the Passion:
A suggestive word was made use of by the evangelist, in not saying pierced, or wounded His side, or anything else, but
opened;that thereby, in a sense, the gate of life might be thrown open, from whence have flowed forth the sacraments of the Church, without which there is no entrance to the life which is the true life. That blood was shed for the remission of sins; that water it is that makes up the health-giving cup, and supplies at once the laver of baptism and water for drinking. This was announced beforehand, when Noah was commanded to make a door in the side of the ark, whereby the animals might enter which were not destined to perish in the flood, and by which the Church was prefigured. Because of this, the first woman was formed from the side of the man when asleep, and was called Life, and the mother of all living. Truly it pointed to a great good, prior to the great evil of the transgression (in the guise of one thus lying asleep). This second Adam bowed His head and fell asleep on the cross, that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from the sleeper's side. O death, whereby the dead are raised anew to life! What can be purer than such blood? What more health-giving than such a wound?
The lifeless Body hanging on the Cross is Life. The Wound which confirms death opens to us the Life poured out in Baptism and Eucharist. Here - in the very midst of bitter death, shameful failure, utter powerlessness - we encounter Life, we taste Life, we enter Life.