By Reverend Ray Atwood Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
The Precious Blood of Jesus Christ
Scripture contains many references to spilled blood. The author of Genesis relates the first spilling of innocent blood when Cain murders his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8). Abel’s blood “cried out” to God from the soil (v. 10). The author almost personifies the blood of innocent Abel. God ordered the Hebrews to sprinkle blood on the lintels and doorposts of the Hebrews’ homes as a sign that the lamb was an instrument of God rather than a god itself (a widespread belief in Egypt). David, through a crafty maneuver, shed the blood of Joab, husband of Bethsheba, in order to cover up his adultery. Much innocent blood was shed throughout Old Testament times.
In the New Testament, we are told of the killing of John the Baptist, whose blood was shed in the defense of marriage (Mk. 6:17-29). Our Lord first shed His Blood as a child when He was circumcised (Lk. 2:21). The elderly Simeon predicted Our Lord’s Passion during the Presentation in the Temple (Lk. 2:34).
Of course, the greatest act of shedding innocent blood came during Our Lord’s Passion, which is recounted in all four Gospels. Jesus sweat Blood during the Agony in the Garden (Lk. 22:44). His Blood was further shed when He was scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified. Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ powerfully depicts the incredible agony He endured and the copious amounts of Blood He shed. Saint John tells us that even after Jesus had died, He shed Blood when a soldier pierced His side with a lance (Jn. 19:34). The Church Fathers and other writers through the centuries have interpreted the Blood as a sign of the Eucharist and the water as a sign of Baptism. These two sacraments flow from the pierced side of the Savior. Shed blood is life poured out for us.
In this month of picnics, parades, and porch swings, let us remember the price Our Lord paid to redeem us. He shed His Precious Blood (a sign of life) in order that we might have life, forgiveness, healing, and salvation. May we thank Him for this gift in prayer and in acts of self-sacrifice for our brothers and sisters.