This Sunday we focus on the body and blood of Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice was not metaphorical, but real. He, fully human, gave his body and blood to be a sacrifice to earn our freedom so that we may know eternal life. Jesus took on our humanity and offered us his divinity. As we reflect this week on the history of blood sacrifice we are a part of, we study the depth of the Christian mystery.
Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites
to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls
as peace offerings to the LORD,
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.
Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.
Exodus 24: 4-8
There is a small village in Liberia that is very poor. In their spiritual practice, their ancestors are extremely important. This is a tribe of people who are very well aware of where and from whom they come from. Every year, they pool their resources together so they can afford to buy one cow. They let the cow feast on the land all year long, growing big and strong. Then, on the day of the biggest celebration, they slaughter the cow. First, they sacrifice half of its sacred blood to their ancestors. Then, then prepare it for feasting, and the whole village comes to the table. That is the one day of the year the people eat meat. By sharing what little they have, they joyfully celebrate abundance one day a year, and offer the most sacred part of their most sacred animal to their ancestors before feasting themselves.
When Christ came as high priest
of the good things that have come to be,
passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle
not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation,
he entered once for all into the sanctuary,
not with the blood of goats and calves
but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
Laura was diagnosed with Leukemia at the end of her junior year of high school. Her friends felt helpless, sacred and sad. Her best friend used an iPad to Skype her into class from her hospital bed. Messages of love and support flooded her Caring Bridge page. There was something more tangible, however, that people could do to help. Over the course of her senior year, as she fought for her health and her life, Laura received several blood transfusions. She told her classmates that the best thing they could do to support her was to give of their precious blood, so that other sick people might find life. Her high school community responded, and set a new school record for blood donated in a single day.
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.
This Sunday, take an extra moment of mediation after communion to wonder about the power of Christ’s blood.
What does the sacrament of communion truly mean for you?
How can Christ’s body and blood nourish and sustain you this week?
What does it mean that our Savior was a full human being who bled on the Cross?
How does communion connect us to other Catholics, transcending time and space?