Traditionally, the month of July has been dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus. We might well give some thought to that devotion today. We can approach it in two ways: either historically or sacramentally. Actually, the two are aspects of the same reality.
First, let us remember that in the Old Testament, God chose the blood of sacrificial animals as one of the principal means by which his people were to worship him in the temple of Jerusalem. And he also chose blood as the means by which his people were to be saved from slavery in Egypt and led on their way to freedom in the Promised Land.
The Jewish people were instructed to slay the passover lamb and smear its blood on their doorposts. The angel of death was to “pass over” the land of Egypt, and pass over those houses marked with the blood of the lamb. In the other houses, he was to kill the firstborn son.
Blood took on a very sacred mystique in the Old Testament. The Jews were not allowed to eat blood (as we south Louisianians do when we make “red boudin” or blood sausage); even if they came into contact with blood, they had to undergo a ritual purification. So you can imagine how shocking it was to his hearers when Jesus, in the sixth chapter of Saint John’s gospel, told them that he would give them his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. Some “walked with him no more,” so repelled they were by this statement of his. Yet, on the night before his death, he changed bread into his flesh and wine into his blood and gave these tremendous gifts to his apostles and all the world for our spiritual nourishment.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. On the day following that Last Supper, our blessed Savior shed his precious blood, to the last drops that came out of his heart when the centurion opened the side of the dead Christ as he hung lifeless on the cross. Indeed, “in blood there is life.” In the blood of Jesus is our eternal life.
Now that the physical body of Jesus has shed his blood for us and then recovered it by his resurrection from the dead, so now we worship God principally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which we offer to the Father the gifts of Christ’s flesh and blood under the appearances of bread and wine, and then receive these most sacred gifts for our spiritual nutrition.
The new Handbook of Indulgences, published by the Holy See in 1986, includes this prayer: Father, by the blood of your Son, you have set us free and saved us from death. Continue your work of love within us that by constantly celebrating the mystery of our salvation we may reach the eternal life it promises. We ask this through Christ out Lord. Amen. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown. O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago