A covenant sealed in blood is very serious.
Just as I am writing these words, our parish is holding a blood drive. People come and allow this very vital fluid in their body to be taken out for the sake of someone else’s life and health. Any of us who have donated blood or have received blood products know that there is deep gratitude in us for those who are willing to share that gift with others. Any of us who know someone who has been injured or died in the service of their country knows of the great sacrifice that they have made for all of us.
When we look upon the crucifix upon which Jesus hangs, we see the one who has willingly entered the sacrifice of love in which He shed His blood. A covenant sealed with blood is quite a commitment.
On this feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi), we acknowledge and worship the one who loved us so much that, not only did He give His life for us, but He also gave Himself to us in the gift of the Eucharist. Each time we attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, we share in a covenant sealed in blood. Jesus was willing to put His life on the line for love. He was willing to go the whole way, including shedding His own blood.
Many communities will celebrate this feast in special ways. Some will have grand processions and others outdoor altars and Masses. All of us will gather in our places of worship to partake of this great covenant that Jesus made with us. He shows us the way so that we can do that in our own lives. So as we celebrate this feast, let’s make sure that this is more than just remembrance or sentimentality. We need to reflect on the implications of sharing in this covenant with Jesus. How are we willing to live for others as Jesus has lived for us?
It’s always good to understand what our faith teaches us, but it’s even more important to put it into flesh, to be part of the incarnation of the Word of God. So you might want to consider actually giving a pint of blood on a regular basis so that someone who needs it has access to it. You might even consider signing the organ donor part of your drivers license, so that when your life is finished here, others might be able to benefit. In my most recent surgery I was able to benefit from the gift of an organ donor. We never know when we will be in need, but we always know when we are able to give. You might want to consider, in addition, other ways to share your life and your good fortune. It always means examining how much we need as opposed to how much we have. It involves including others’ needs in our examination of our giving and sharing.
At the Last Supper, where Jesus gave us the gift of Eucharist, He washed His disciples feet. He instructed them that they were to do for others what He had done for them. So in celebration of this feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, we must look at how we can literally and figuratively wash the feet of others, even if they include our betrayers and those who abandon us. As you celebrate the Eucharist this weekend, bring to the altar your gratitude for such a great covenant sealed in blood. Bring your gratitude for Jesus’ faithfulness to you and I, even when we didn’t deserve it. Let us renew our covenant with our brothers and sisters in the world, that we will do for them what Jesus has done for us.
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.