Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blood and Water From Our Lord

This reading is an excerpt of The Catecheses (Cat. 3, 13-19; SC 50, 174-177) by St. John Chrysostom, one of the greatest Early Church Fathers of the 5th Century.

It is a powerful reading on the blood and water from our Saviour's side as he was sacrificed on the cross for our sins. It beautifully brings the life source of the church to light - the sacramental life.

Suffering is the essence of the life of the Church. The message of the Jesus is sacrificial - bloody - and therein lies our salvation.

The cross of Christ comes to us in Word & Sacraments. It is from the cross that all true Christians live, in the humility and foolishness of blood and water.
This is our purpose.

This is the reason why Friends of Mercy exists. To bring the mercy of blood and water to the poor, the meek, and the lowly.
We all are the poor, the meek, and the lowly as our baptism calls us to repentance daily and absolves our sin.

The sacrifice of the Lamb comes to us in His victorious body and blood at the altar. Humbly we receive His gifts of eternity.
Yet eternity is not then, it is now. At the altar. At the font.

“Sacrifice a lamb without blemish”, commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors”. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood.

In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ. If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side.

The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist.
The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own.

So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

“There flowed from his side water and blood”. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you.

I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy Eucharist.
From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the holy Eucharist.

Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!”

As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death. Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat?

By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.