Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – What is the Covenant in Blood?

Agnus Dei sacrificeI spend more time this year reflecting on the first reading from last Sunday, from Exodus 24. One fascination I have has to do with my attraction to the symbol of blood and aversion to the reality of blood. 

Blood equals life. It seems to me now that the sacrificing of bulls, goats, whatever is a mode, not of ‘sacrificing’ or giving up an animal, not a substitutionary action of offering a bullock instead of a child, and so on. 

It has more to do with putting blood, “life,” that is, in the place (Temple) and on the place (Altar) which is with God. It’s a way to render all of life to God, from whom it comes and to surrender all one’s life to God our creator. 

Thus, when Moses sprinkled the blood of bulls and such on the altar, he bathed the altar of God in life, that is, the blood. And, when he sprinkled the people who said, “We will live out the words of God given through Moses,” he incorporated the people into the life of God. 

That’s the theology of blood, I believe. What about the reality of blood today? Yikes! It’s the sign of death, the dead, and impending doom! Ever notice how the operating room staff protects themselves from blood and germs? And protects the patient from their blood and germs? 

We’ve been taught to “glove up” to deal with spilt blood fearing the blood-borne pathogens potentially in the blood – HIV/AIDS, for example. We take precautions with blood. “Don’t infect me! Don’t kill me!” Are there other blood-borne nasties people fear? Probably. 

What about the blood of Christ? Does it signify life or death? Well… 

  1. I react here to what I perceive as the downside of Luther’s notion that Christians are “covered by the blood of the Lamb.” It portrays a life lived in shame. That is, God sees the blood of the Lamb and judges a person righteous because of that. The one who is covered, however, is not transformed, merely justified. The person remains a piece of “fill in the blanks” and dwells in shame because grace did not penetrate the cloak of blood to change her life essentially.

Tomorrow, I want to address a way in which blood signifies death and life. And how receiving from the cup can be significant.

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