HOMILY Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ June 10, 2012
Today is an important occasion in that Season Five of TRUE BLOOD premiers on HBO this evening. Well, I don’t know if any of you are fans of vampire shows, but we are here to talk about a different, and much truer, blood. There is a lot about blood in our readings today. So lets talk blood.
We say, "Blood is thicker than water." Blood is a VERY, VERY powerful substance. If you doubt this just think about any trip you have had to the dentist in say the last 15 years. Dentists now wear masks, and gloves and even protective goggles. Why? Because of blood.
Policemen, ambulance drivers, EMS workers, and all who have to respond to crime scenes and accidents, all carry these things, disposable gloves. Why? Because they don’t want to come into contact with blood. Blood is powerful, scary stuff. It can kill you.
These precautions today are almost like some ancient, superstitious, taboo; like there is some mystical power in blood. In ancient religions holiness was seen as a physical power. You could never touch the holiest object, lest you die. In the second book of Samuel, for example, we hear of the unfortunate Uzzah, who reached out his hand to steady the ark of the covenant when it was tipping over, and was struck down dead on the spot, for touching the arc. [2 Sam 6:6-7] So today there is a taboo against touching blood, lest you die.
And yet, if you have ever received a blood transfusion, you know that blood is life. When you donate blood - and I hope that all of you who are able to do so do donate - you literally give the gift of life. Blood cannot be manufactured in a lab. There is no substitute for it. It must come from a living person, because it is the substance of life.
So, blood is death and blood is life. Blood is a VERY, VERY powerful substance. And not just physically, but spiritually as well.
In our first reading, from the Book of Exodus, Moses told all the people the commandments and laws of God. "We will do everything that the Lord has told us." they said. Yeah, they were all for it. But Moses was not going to take them at face value. He knew they were fickle, and he did not trust them entirely. So Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord, and read them to the people.
And a second time they responded, "All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do."
But that was still not good enough for Moses. He wanted a stronger, more permanent, commitment.
So what did he do? Moses took bowls of blood, from sacrificed bulls, and splashed half of it on the altar, symbolizing God, and then sprinkled the people with the other half of the blood. Now think about that. What if, like Moses, I sent certain young men to go out and find Bevo, slit his throat and collect the blood in a bucket. And then I took the bucket of blood and splashed half of the bull’s blood on the altar here, and then sprinkled you with the other half of the blood, just like I sprinkled you with water during the Easter season?
It would probably get your attention. You would not soon forget it.
Why did Moses do this? It meant that God and the people were now united by the blood. They were "blood relatives", like blood brothers, united by the blood of the covenant. God and the people shared the same life because they shared in the same blood.
In the same way, Jesus, on the night before he died, took a cup of wine. He gave thanks over the cup, then passed it to his disciples. They all drank from it, and Jesus said to them, "This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many." They were now united in blood, Jesus’ blood.
Jesus’ blood, poured out on the cross, is the blood of the new covenant. And we share that blood, that life, here and now. In a few minutes I will take the cup of wine, and together we will recall what Jesus did on the night before he died. “he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples, saying: Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
We share that same blood, that same life, with Jesus in this covenant. This blood binds us together as blood brothers and sisters, united in Christ. Our communion in the Body and Blood of Christ is much more than just a pious custom or a quaint ritual. It is a powerful blood union. We become one with God in Jesus Christ.
This is the Blood of Jesus, through whom, we profess, all things were made. So this is the Blood that made the universe, that now hold all things in being, and that gives life to all living beings. This is the Blood of God. This Blood was poured out on the Cross for you and me. This Blood is the firmest proof and the sheer essence of LOVE.
More life-giving than any blood transfusion, this is the Blood that gives us TRUE LIFE. It is powerful indeed. AMEN.