Longinus was a Roman soldier just like all the rest. He cursed heavily, mocked Jews and frequented prostitutes. The only thing that stood out about Longinus was that he was partially blind and thus a clumsy person. On one ordinary work day Longinus pierced the side of a dead criminal just like he had done many times before. Only this time as the blood fell to his face Longinus for the first time in his life could see clearly.
Longinus was miraculously healed and fell to his knees in joy, astonishment and fear. Looking back at his captain and then up to this criminal Longinus professed his faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God.
St. Longinus’ spear tip lies in a massive stone column in St. Peter’s Basilica marked by a giant statue of St. Longinus. This brief contact of his with Jesus touched his life forever and millions of pilgrims that enter the basilica each year recall this event.
When I look around the basilica though I ask myself. Where are the other Roman soldiers? Did not they also have sicknesses in need of healing? Did not they also touch the blood of our Lord? Where are those who scourged him, those that nailed him, those that striped him? Where are the Roman soldiers that witnessed firsthand the Resurrection? Why aren’t they also saints? Why were they left untouched?
I only have two words for this. Human freedom. God can touch man all he wants, all of those Roman soldiers saw Jesus, yet only one believed. St. Longinus’ conversion was not a passive reception of Jesus’ blood on his face, it was an act of freedom that welcomed God’s grace. Will you let yourself be untouched by the Resurrection?
Brother Anthony, it is with great sadness that at I write this here. I don’t know where else to put my sadness over losing you. You were a brave and good man, about to be ordained… not to be though because Our Heavenly Father has other plans for you. I’m so sorry and sad that you’re suddenly gone, at such a young age and with so many things left that you wanted to accomplish. I think Our Heavenly Father took you home because he needed and wanted you in Heaven. Hopefully I’ll see you on the ‘other’ side and in the meantime I shall pray to you and for you, Brother Anthony.