Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I Claim The Blood Of The Lamb




YEARS AGO, WHEN I WAS A YOUNG PRIEST, a non-believing doctor I know took up a residency in a major Catholic hospital. He told me that after working late one night he went into the chapel and looked around, following the Stations of the Cross along the side walls. For whatever reason he felt bold enough to comment: "How ridiculous; a God who dies." 

But dies for love! That's not unheard of. A parent would die for the child. Soldiers in war offer their lives for others. Maximilian Kolbe let the Nazi's kill him so that a young family man would be spared. So why not God - loving us incomprehensibly - dying for love of us who were lost to God by our folly: our power-quest, our pride and vanity, our selfishness and violence. Maybe the doctor should have said, "How ridiculous that God would die for the likes of us." 

Maybe we have to see God bleed in order to even begin to get how much we matter to God. When I was a hospital chaplain I met a young dad, covered with severe burns who had rushed back into his flaming home repeatedly to save his two little children.  If that's instinct, it's an instinct that's profoundly interwoven with love. A God who dies - but who dies mysteriously for love of us! And again, the Christian sense of the word mystery is not that there's insufficient light to see, but too much light!

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And it's still July: the Month of the Precious Blood of Jesus. It's an invitation to pay attention to this love that bleeds. A Jewish rabbi told me that the reason the Book of Leviticus goes into such detail describing how to make the priest-vestments, is that the temple in Jerusalem was a bloody slaughterhouse with animals being killed all the time, and the blood soaked vestments of the priests therefore needing to be replaced frequently. She also told me that there are groups of Jews in Israel that would like to rebuild the temple and get the whole system of animal sacrifice up and running again.

But Jesus ended all of that when he over-turned the tables of the money changers and those who were selling animals to offer as temple sacrifices. And the Prophet Isaiah, long before Jesus, made it very clear that God was pretty much done with the animal sacrifice system.


"What are your endless sacrifices to me?" says the Lord.
"I am sick of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of calves.
I take no pleasure in the blood
of bulls and lambs and goats.
When you come and present yourselves before me,
who has asked you to trample through my courts?
Bring no more futile cereal offerings,
the smoke from them fills me with disgust."


Now Jesus is the Lamb. But does that mean God somehow needs blood - especially Jesus' Blood to be somehow satisfied? The Litany of the Precious Blood of Jesus says the Blood of Christ is the price of our salvation and without which there is no pardon. This is hard for us to understand.

But blood means life. When Jesus died on the cross and the soldier pushed the spear into his side, blood came out, and water. Does that tell us Jesus-God was totally emptied of his life for us? And that physiologically, when a man was hanging in crucifixion, a great bag of water developed around the heart, and so when the spear went into the side of Jesus, it was his heart that was speared open - that now in Jesus Crucified we have access to the open heart of God as never before?

I'm thinking of that remarkable and moving scene in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, when the soldier stabbed the spear into the side of Jesus, and such a voluminous spray of bloody water poured out and down onto his  face, that he was stunned and  un-steadied by it.

Maybe then, as we live in a world that disappoints and threatens, that's dangerous and wrong-headed, instead of being resentful about it all, we can invoke the life-giving Blood of Jesus over it: as if to cover the world in God's very life. That kind and compassionate prayer might well act as an antidote, a medicine, a salve, a healing balm for the world's festering and fetid wounds.






This can be our prayer. Look at the picture of our little planet floating in space - so alive in its blue, green and white. But we know that as we come in for a landing, we discover the living sphere to be a place of smoke and flame, horror, tears, death, terror, contradiction, destruction and extinction. Claim the Blood of Jesus the Lamb over all of this, and what else and who else you know. Wherever the planet needs healing.


I claim the Blood of the Lamb for profiteers who destroy the land, the water, the animals and plants.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for religious people with hardened hearts.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for people in authority who protect locked and secret files.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for people who capture children for the sex trade.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for parents who fail their children.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who champion  the rights of all except the rights of the preborn child.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who plan terror and destruction.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for the haters and resenters.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for the countries of greed and waste.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for Christians who disavow justice.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for Americans who curse the poor.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who choose ignorance.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for religious anti-Semites.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for powerful people who tell lies.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who protect self-interests while others die.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for politicians who care for some and not for all.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who snare young people with drugs.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who make a living by death.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for war planners and producers.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who disregard children.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for capitalists who are only self-referred.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for people who are sick with violence and cruelty.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for news-entertainers.
I claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who say, "Well, that's the way it is."

5 comments:

  1. This planet needs healing at every level. I will claim the Blood of the Lamb for all these things and more. Amen.

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  2. Interesting image. It is almost as if the artist did a painting over a painting. Can you tell us what the words at the bottom read? Thank you for your litany prayer. I will take a cup and claim the Blood of the Lamb for all those who cause suffering in this world.

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  3. It does seem to be a two-layered painting, doesn't it. There's a grape vine motif going on in the background - grapes of course signifying the Blood of Christ, as in the Eucharist. My poor eyes can't make out the inscription at the bottom of the cross. Sometimes these signs in paintings have nothing to do with the holy event but rather tell us who painted the picture or on what occasion the painting was offered - a historical centennial perhaps or something like that. There are halos around two that I can see. The one on the left might well be St. Francis. But we need some holy women in this scene: a holy woman or two, why not? A Christian mother slugging it out with a bunch of kids; a Christian woman who dedicated her life to the poor, the elderly, the children disposed of. Don't you think?

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  4. I Claim the Blood of the Lamb for those who crush the dreams of others.
    I Claim the Blood of the Lamb for friends who pretend to be trustworthy and are not.
    I Claim the Blood of the Lamb for people who live false lives.
    I Claim the Blood of the Lamb for the strong who don't help the weak.
    I Claim the Blood of the Lamb for myself, for knowing I can be a better person than I am.

    ReplyDelete