The Blood of Christ Helps Us Grow into His Likeness
Corpus Christi Sunday (Year B)

Jeremiah R. Grosse
June 2009
Reproduced with Permission

Our second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews speaks to us of the bloody sacrifice offered in the Temple in Jerusalem for the sins of the people. The blood of bulls and goats was shed in place of a human sacrifice which was not uncommon among some of the people over that region.

In the Book of Genesis, God confronts Cain over the killing of his brother, Abel. God tells Cain, "The voice of your brother's blood is crying out to Me from the ground." For shedding his brother's blood, Cain was forced to roam the earth and the earth no longer yielded its strength to Cain because it had opened its mouth to receive Abel's blood.

Eternal redemption could not be won by the offering of the blood of animals, regardless of how spotless they were. Such sacrifices had to be offered on a regular basis and even after the sacrifice the people were still trapped in their sins.

The issue of blood is so important in Jewish culture that Kosher dietary law requires that in order for the meat of an animal to be considered Kosher it must be slaughtered in such a way that all of the blood is drained from its body.

Jewish culture and tradition teaches that blood is life and we are inheritors of that tradition. The Lord Jesus entered into the sanctuary not with blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

Jesus is the true and eternal priest who established this unending sacrifice. He offered himself as a victim for our deliverance and taught us to make this offering in his memory. As we eat his body which he gave for us, we grow in strength. As we drink his blood which he poured out for us, we are washed clean. Jesus gives us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink under the appearance of bread and wine, which earth has given and human hands have made as food for our Earthly pilgrimage to help sustain us in the Truth and help us to conform our lives to the one who is the "Way, Truth, and the Life".

The Precious Blood of Jesus is our ransom from death. The Son of Man came to give His life as a ransom for the many. It is actually a compensation made on our behalf to the outraged justice of God. We are not to think of our Lord's death as if it were merely an inevitable result of His conflict with the leaders of the Jewish people; as if it were a regrettable accident of history. On the contrary, it was pre-ordained from all eternity as the appropriate remedy for Adam's fault. As the words of the Exultet, the Easter proclamation, tell us, "O Happy Fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer."

Neither are we to think of it as if it was simply meant to offer us a model of fortitude and of charity; as if the value of Christ's Passion lay in the inspiration which it has given to His martyrs and to all His faithful servants in later times. It was a sacrifice, not in the loose, popular sense in which we use that word nowadays, so that it applies to any action which costs heroic effort or pain. It was a sacrifice really offered and really accepted on behalf of our sins; all the earlier sacrifices, the blood of bulls and goats, peace offerings and offerings for sin, were only types and dim foreshadowings of this.

In a few moments we will be gathered around the altar to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord and be fed at the His Table so that we can grow into the likeness of the risen Christ.

At the end of the liturgy we will be sent forth bring to those we encounter this day what we have received. This is our way of helping to make Jesus present to those we meet as we serve as His ambassadors to the world.