Friday, July 17, 2009

Flesh and Blood

They shall eat its roasted flesh... But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you.
Exodus 12:8, 13

Flesh and Blood. These were the means by which the Israelites were finally delivered from Egypt. It is one of the most potent pictures in the Old Testament of the salvation won for us by our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Our Lord was our sacrifice. Through His broken body and poured out blood we were delivered from the slavery of sin and given free passage to the Promised Land of eternal life.

On the night before our Lord was betrayed, He established a permanent means by which the sacrifice of the cross would be clearly seen. He established the Eucharist. Since that time, Christians have made it a central part of their worship to partake of His Body and His Blood.

As Catholics, we believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ. We do not take these merely as symbols. Though there is obviously symbolic meaning, it is more than that. It is truly Jesus. This is a mystery, but we are firmly convinced this is what He has given us. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," (Jn. 6:53-55).

Today is Friday. It is the day when we specifically focus on His death in the same way that we focus on His resurrection each Sunday. This is why Catholics traditionally fast, at least from meat, on Fridays. It is to remember in a specific way the sacrifice our Lord made for us. This sacrifice, though offered once for all time, is perpetual in its efficacy. In good old fashioned holiness/Pentecostal language, the Blood still flows from Calvary. It means that the one sacrifice of Christ is still setting people free from sin today.

I happen to be part of a parish that offers daily Mass. This is an increasingly rare privilege in an age of decreasing vocations to the priesthood and a corresponding decrease in the piety of many of the people. Yet, I am thankful for this opportunity. In receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord each day I am forgiven of my sins, and strengthened to live out His call to a holy life. With Christ in me, I am sent forth to serve others in His name. Today, especially, I think on these things as I remember His passion- the great love He had in giving His life to redeem ours.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren, (1 Jn. 3:16). By the grace of God may I be faithful this day and every day to bring Christ to the people! God grant that other souls will find the deliverance from sin today for which our Lord gave His life. Amen!

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