There is power in the blood: A homily for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

bloodHere we are nearing the end of the month of July, a month that is traditionally set aside to reverence in a special way the Precious Blood of Jesus.  Pope Saint John XXIII talked about the pious tradition in his family growing up that had them praying the litany of the Precious Blood every day during July.  I have a particular devotion to the Precious Blood partly because I had a Precious Blood Priest, Fr. Don Davison CPPS, growing up.  The Precious Blood of Jesus, is a powerful thing.  So I want to reflect a little on the power and sanctity of the Precious Blood before July is over.

Back when I was teaching third grade religion in the CCD at St. Charles (btw I’m super excited to be teaching religion here at St Joe’s to our fourth and fifth graders this year!!), before I even went to seminary, I remember particularly precocious young man. He was brilliant, and full of energy. The young man’s grandmother had dropped him off on the first day of class. She gave me a warning about him. She told me, “he’s got the blood of a tiger.” Now I’ve thought about the phrase a lot since then. I think she meant by it that her grandson wasn’t quite human, that he was full of some superhuman energy.   She was right, that boy had some kind of superhuman blood and wild blood in him.

I think we do, too. We don’t have the blood of tigers, but I submit to you that we have something even more amazing, even more powerful in us. We have the blood of Christ in us! We have royal blood flowing through us, royal blood in our veins.   It’s simple theology 101. You and I come to Mass, and we drink the blood of Christ. Then we have the blood of Christ in us. I want us to pause and contemplate the awesomeness of that!

Because it means a lot. It means that the Precious Blood of Jesus–not a symbol, not a sign–but his blood in all its majesty and glory circulates through our veins! It means that we have the lifeblood of God himself in us, we have power of Christ in us, and it means St. Paul was right: I no longer live, he lives in me.  And I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Sometimes I get discouraged and think, how can I do thiis or that?  Then I try to remember: I have the life of God, the blood of Jesus in me. I got this. Having his blood in us also means we are to shed our blood for others, because that is actually Christ’s blood in us.  You show me a priest or a parent who has not shed his blood, sweat and tears for those entrusted to him, and I will show you a man who has failed at his vocation. We have Jesus’ blood in us.  It means he floods our very bodies with his strength, his very life.  Jesus says in John 6–“Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you….but he who eats my flesh and drinks my life, I will raise him up on the last day.”  We who take in his blood, we have life…here and hereafter.

We read about the religious importance of blood all over the scriptures, but especially in Exodus. There we see how God told Moses and Aaron to direct all the people to go and get a particular lamb and put the lamb’s blood on their doorposts. Those houses marked with blood would have life, they would be saved.  And then they sprinkled the blood over the people; those covered with the blood had life, they had salvation.  I tell you it is a miracle that we have something greater here. We don’t have blood on us, we have the lifeblood of God IN us.  That is something wild.

The Eucharist it the pearl of great price, and the Eucharist is Jesus.  Jesus is so good that he pours himself out for us on the cross and at the altar at every Holy Mass!  We should be so excited about that. This is why we come to Holy Mass. It is why we have our school and catechetical programs….to teach kids, but to hopefully make them fall in love with Jesus and the Euachrsit.  It’s not just church. Here we receive life in its fullness!  We should want everyone to join us.  Think about that with RCIA coming up.  Most converts I’ve met, what did it for them was the Eucharist.

My friends we have the lifeblood of Christ in us, flowing through us.  It is worth everything!  One drop of blood amounts to more than all the money in the world.  And God generously pours that blood into our veins.  It is the pearl of great price.  Solomon had the right answer.  God asked him, “So what do you want? I’ll give you anything!”  Solomon answers: “I want you, I want to do right by you!”  And God says, “Amen!  You didn’t ask for riches, for money, for this or that….you asked for me.”  In our heart of hearts, if we could have one wish, I hope it would be Jesus.