The Precious Blood has a strong allure to many believers. We’ll look at devotion in this area as we head into the new year.
Blood brings to mind the sacrifices of the Old Covenant:
175. Biblical revelation, both in its figurative stage in the Old Testament and in its perfect and fulfilled stage in the New Testament, connects blood very closely with life, and authentically with death, exodus and the Pasch, with the priesthood and sacrificial cult, with redemption and the covenant.
Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice, shed blood. This sacrifice is embedded in the Paschal Mystery, the very heart of Christian faith:
The Old Testament figures associated with blood and its redemptive significance are fulfilled perfectly in Christ, especially in his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Thus the mystery of the Blood of Christ is to be found at the very center of the faith and of our salvation.
The Scriptural references are several and substantial. They crisscross the two Testaments:
The mystery of the Saving Blood of Christ recalls and refers to:
• the Incarnation of the Word (cf. John 1, 14) and Christ’s becoming a member of the people of the Old Testament through circumcision (Lk 2,21);
• the Biblical image of the Lamb abounds with implication: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1,29), in which Isaiah’s Suffering Servant image (Is 53) is also to be found, carries upon himself the sins of mankind (cf Is 53, 4-5); the “Paschal Lamb”, symbol of Israel’s redemption (cf. At 8, 31-35; 1 Cor 5, 7; 1 Pet 1, 18-20);
• the “chalice of the passion” of which Jesus spoke in allusion to his imminent redemptive death, when he asked the sons of Zebede: “Can you drink this chalice that I must drink?” (Mt 20, 22; cf Mk 10, 38) and the chalice of the agony in the garden of olives (cf Lk 22, 42-43) which was accompanied by th Lord’s sweating blood (cf. Lk 22, 44);
• the Eucharistic chalice, under the form of wine, contains the Blood of the New Covenant poured out for the remission of sins; is a memorial of the Lord’s Pasch (1 Cor 11, 25); and the drink of salvation according to the Lord’s own words: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have life eternal and I shall raise him up on the last day” (John 6, 54);
• the event of the Lord’s death, since by pouring out his Blood on the Cross, Christ reconciled heaven and earth (cf Col 1, 20);
• the lance which transfixed the immolated Lamb, from whose open side flowed blood and water (cf John 19, 34), a sign of the redemption that had been achieved, and of the sacramental life of the Church -blood and water, Baptism and Eucharist-, symbol of the Church born from the side of Christ dying on the Cross(Cf. SC 5).
As we begin these sections I’m reminded of the wealth of musical references, all across Christianity, especially in contemporary genres. Any thoughts on the Precious Blood as we commence?
The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.