Brookline Carmel Bulletin
July 3, 1960
The Most Precious Blood
“For this is the Chalice of My Blood, of the New and Eternal Covenant, the Mystery of Faith, which for you and for many shall be shed unto the remission of sins”.
These words which the priest uses at Mass to change the wine into the Blood of Jesus Christ seem to run on and on when compared to the formula of Consecration of the Host: “For this is My Body”. Since both of these formulas have come down to us from the earliest times, they indicate how preoccupied the first Christians were with the value of the Blood of Christ, shed for the remission of our sins.
This should not surprise us, for the first Christians were taken from among the Jewish people, a people steeped in Old Testament lore. In their long and glorious history the events stood out prominently. These events constituted them in a special relationship with God; they made them a race apart, a privileged people. In both of them blood figured prominently. One was the first Passover; the other was the sealing of the Covenant on Mount Sinai.
At first Passover, the Children of Israel took a yearling lamb, perfect in every respect, killed it and smeared some of its blood upon the doorposts of their homes. This rendered them immune to the last and the greatest of all the plagues visited upon Egypt – the slaying of all the first-born sons. It was at this time, too, that they were liberated from bondage under the cruel yoke of Pharaoh. Later on, at Mount Sinai, after Moses had read to the people all the words of the Lord, they cried out with one accord: Let us fulfill all that the Lord has spoken. Then Moses wrote down the words of the Lord in a book, and having offered victims of peace, he sprinkled the book, the people and all the vessels of the Sanctuary with the blood of the victim, saying: This is the blood of the Covenant which the Lord has made with you concerning all those words. Henceforth the words of the contract – for that is what a covenant is – would be binding upon both God and the Children of Israel. If they would keep His commandments, He would be their God, and they would be His people. He would bless those who blessed; He would afflict all who afflicted Israel. Provided they fulfilled their part of the bargain, the benign Providence of God would see to it that the Sons of Jacob would grow into a strong numerous people. They would gain the ascendancy over the pagan tribes, their neighbors, and dominate them. Theirs would be a land flowing with milk and honey. The Promised Land was a kind of earthly paradise they would inhabit.
The terms of the Covenant bound the Israelites so closely to God that their union was likened to the union existing between a man and his spouse. Later on, the Prophets denounced their violations of the contract as so many ‘fornications’. That is how much God was offended by their infidelities.
Now, what the blood of animals used thus did for the Jews according to the flesh, symbolically, the Blood of Jesus did for all of mankind according to the spirit, in Truth. When the merit of the Blood of Christ is applied to a soul at Baptism, it leaves its mark upon the soul, and preserves it from the angel of death. At this time also it is freed from the bonds of sin. Up until the shedding of Christ’s Blood, sin abounded in the world. The souls of men and their faculties were slaves of the body and its appetites. But where sin abounded, grace has super abounded. Now it is possible for a soul to enjoy the liberty of the sons of God. The soul can cry out with St. Paul: O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?
The Old Agreement (Covenant) made the Jewish people mere servants of God. The New and Eternal Covenant makes us His Sons. If God was so good to mere servants, and was pleased by sacrifices that had no intrinsic worth, how much more goodness does He not lavish upon His children who offer Him a worthy sacrifice, a clean oblation, one whose merits are without limit? To His mere servants God gave dominion over their neighbors. To His sons, God gives power over demons; His sons shall judge angels. God fed His mere servants with the finest fruits of the earth. His sons feast upon the Incarnate Word, in whom are contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. To His mere servants God gave a material kingdom; to His sons He gives Himself – He is the true country of the soul. The mere servants of God inhabited an earthly paradise; His sons have the true Heaven, the Most Holy Trinity, dwelling within their souls.
The words of Consecration of the wine, quoted above, tell us that the Blood of Christ is the mystery of Faith. The definite article is used advisedly. It is the Mystery because it is the compendium of all mysteries. It is human blood: it speaks of the Incarnation. It is blood that is shed for us; it speaks of the redemption. It is the Blood of the Covenant: it speaks of our dignity as Sons of God, hence, of Sanctifying Grace and the Indwelling of the Trinity.
Finally, because it is a mystery of Faith, we profit by the Blood of Christ only through Faith. Every bilateral contract does not bind until the contracting parties together give it binding power by a free act of the will, an act externally manifested. Our Lord Jesus Christ willed to bind Himself to the contract by shedding His Blood, for He had power to lay down His life, or not to lay it down. We manifest our will to enter into the contract by actually living according to its terms, that is, by living up to the truths left to us by Jesus in the Gospel. Faith without works, after all, is dead. Besides, Faith is not vivified but by Charity. Charity resides in the will.
We ought not to neglect making use of the Precious Blood of Jesus to save souls. Every day we ought to offer it on behalf of sinners. Like the Little Flower (St. Therese) we might very well take up our place in spirit beneath the cross of Jesus, and there gather up every drop of Jesus’ blood, as if it were a precious balm, and apply to souls throughout the world. To do so is eminently in accord with our Carmelite Vocation.
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