Blood is a big deal.
Just over two years ago, my doctor took a special blood test, and told me that something about my blood is different from most people’s. There are confused little antibodies floating around in my blood, attacking my body rather than defending it. “There’s nothing we can do,” he said. “Do you have a history of autoimmune disorders in your family?”
My mother, who was with me, answered, “Yes.” That single blood test has affected the rest of my life.
The Power of Blood
Everyone’s blood has the power to change. Why are blood donation drives so popular at community events, offices and churches? If you lose your blood, you lose your health—and ultimately, your life. Blood has the power to change someone’s life.
Now that I’m married, everything in my blood matters to my husband and our future family. Those confused little antibodies raise the price I pay for health insurance and life insurance. If I become pregnant, my blood will affect the doctor’s approach to my healthcare. Several months ago, I experienced my first-ever migraine headaches. Because of my blood, my brain was scanned, checking for serious disease. See? Blood has the power to change someone’s life.
My great uncle, Father Timothy J. Kinnally, CSSR
“Mom, can we see your green binder?”
She keeps it in her storage closet, next to her high school yearbooks. It always fascinated my sister and I; it told the story of our blood.
Flipping through the pages, we’d see our maternal ancestry unfolding: hotel owners, soldiers, Irish immigrants, and the potato famine. We’d examine the faces in those black-and-white photographs, pointing out a familiar-looking nose or smile or forehead. These people’s blood was in ours. Their blood had power: it handed on traits and tales that made my sister and I who we are today.
Promise in Blood
Throughout human history, everyone’s made a big deal about blood: Whose will be sacrificed to the gods? Whose army shed more? Whose was royal? Whose was diseased?
This Sunday during Mass, I imagined that epic story as it was read: Moses taking the bowl filled with ox blood and splashing it on the altar. I heard the swish and splash of that blood, and the boom of his voice announcing the Hebrews’ covenant with God. I heard the crowd clapping, their feet crunching the sand as they danced, and the joy in their voices. They had made a promise with God, in blood. This was a big deal.
The problem? They broke it.
The Most Perfect Blood
But God rises above our broken promises. When His chosen people failed to follow Him as they’d promised, God sent the remedy: His own flesh and blood.
Every good parent knows his children. God knows how big a deal blood is for us. He knows how we’ve valued sacrifice, bloodlines, bloodshed, royal blood and so on. Sending us a message, God sent us His own flesh and blood Son: Jesus, born from the royal bloodline (King David’s family), to cure the sick, to heal bleeding hearts, and to shed His blood in sacrifice.
The Last Supper, by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (1896)
This is the New Covenant – the Most Perfect Covenant. No more ox blood. No, God wanted to use His Own Blood to give us His Perfect Promise: You are mine. You are chosen. You are beloved.
Whose Blood Runs in Your Veins?
This good news gets even better!
The night before Jesus shed His blood in sacrifice, He gathered his apostles together for the most sacred meal in a Jew’s life: the Passover Seder meal. It recalls the Old Testament peoples’ covenant with God. But while celebrating this meal, Jesus took the bread and offered it to his apostles saying, “Take it; this is my body,” and similarly the wine, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14:12-16, 22-26) He instructed them to do this. The apostles did. They instructed their followers to do this. And those men instructed theirs, and on, and on…
God wants to have the strongest bond possible with each of us; he wants his own blood to run through our veins.
Remember the instruction “do this” passed on from Jesus to his followers, through generations to today? At every Mass, the priest obeys Jesus’ commandment to “do this.” Thus, the bread becomes Jesus’ body, and the wine becomes His blood. Then, we receive it. God’s blood is in us! Instead of splashing animal blood on an altar over and over again to renew our covenant with God, as the Israelites did, we renew our covenant with God when we each His body and drink His blood. Jesus’ blood, shed once on the Cross, is made truly present during the holy meal at Mass.
Next time we participate in Mass, let’s remember the reality and the mystery of God’s blood. He offers it to us, out of perfect love.
Jesus, may your Divine Blood enter my veins, to make me live the generosity of the Cross at every moment. –Saint Josemaría Escrivá (Crucible #780)