Month of the Precious Blood (Day 5)
July 05, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.
Day 5
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (22:14-20)
When the hour came, [Jesus] took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 

Know that in this bread is the body of Christ which hung upon the cross, and in this cup, the blood of Christ which flowed from his side. Take, therefore, and eat his body; take and drink his blood, 
-- and you will become members of his body. 
Eat this sacred food, so that your bond of unity with Christ may never be broken. Drink this sacred blood, the price he paid for you, so that you may never lose heart because of your sinfulness.

 – and you will become members of his body.

From the writings of René Girard (+2015)

Many of the scenes from Genesis and Exodus are apparently concerned, on the historical level, with a state of transition from a world in which human sacrifice was practised on a regular basis, particularly the sacrifice of the first-born, to a world in which the only legitimate blood rites are circumcision and the burning of animal victims (Jacob’s blessing, the sacrifice of Abraham, the circumcision of Moses’s son, and so on). There is no lack of texts to back up this hypothesis. From our standpoint its advantage is that it allows us to view the Bible permeated by a single, dynamic movement away from sacrifice. We can distinguish a number of very different stages — differing in their content and the results they produced — which are nonetheless identical in general bearing and form. This form always involves the preliminary disintegration of a pre-existing system, a catastrophic crisis that ends happily when the victimage mechanism provides a mediation, and the subsequent establishment of a sacrificial system that became more and more humane. The first stage is the transition from human sacrifice to animal sacrifice in the so-called patriarchal period; the second, in Exodus, is the institution of Passover, which accentuates the common meal rather than the burnt sacrifice and can hardly claim to be a sacrifice at all in the proper sense of the term. The third stage is represented by the prophets’ wish to renounce all forms of sacrifice, and this is only carried out in the Gospels. 

[Thus the] Eucharist is really related to sacrifice but instead of representing the violence against the victim, of being the victim that you eat, you eat the total refusal of violence, which is Christ. It’s a reversal, but it’s still the same symbolism. The anthropologists are right to point that out. It doesn’t mean it means the same thing, but what they see is that it is the same thing, so since they think that the killing is only symbolical anyway, they feel the Eucharist and sacrifice are pretty much the same thing. But it is not because the shedding of blood, the violence in sacrifice, is essential. It means the end of violence yet at the same time it shows the continuity with a whole history of religion, so when the anthropologists tell you “Hey, it’s cannibalism” you should answer “Yes, of course, cannibalism is part of human history and the Eucharist summarizes it all in non-violence.” Therefore, why not cannibalism there as well? Cannibalism is the essence of sacrifice. Cannibalism means that you eat the sacrificial victim in order to be your victim, because you want to be that victim. The reason you killed him is you want to be him/her. Therefore, if you absorb his/her flesh, you become them, just as if you absorb the flesh of Christ, you should become a little bit nonviolent, more than you were before. If you understand this text, you also perceive that people who want to fool us cannot have put it there. We can discover in these sayings tremendous aspects that no one has yet discovered that fit the Christian meaning. Like the stone that the builders rejected. So therefore faith is highly linked to the text; that must be something a little bit Protestant in me. It is Christ himself who takes assumes the responsibility of quoting that psalm (118:22), saying “explain it to me, explain the relationship with me.” We haven’t deciphered it yet. It should be enough for everybody to understand that Christianity is not a text like others where part of its truth is still hidden but decipherable. This is the sort of thing that can restore the damaged faith of our time.

Musical Selection
I am the Word that spoke and light was made
I am the seed that died to be re-born
I am the bread that comes from heaven above
I am the vine that fills your cup with joy
Take and eat, take and eat
This is my body given up for you
Take and drink, take and drink
This is my blood given up for you
I am the way that leads the exile home
I am the truth that sets the captive free
I am the life that raises up the dead
I am your peace, true peace my gift to you
I am the Lamb that takes away your sin
I am the gate that guards you night and day
You are my flock you know the shepherd's voice
You are my own, your ransom is my blood
The bread you give, O God,
is Christ’s flesh for the life of the world;
the cup of his blood
is your covenant for our salvation.
Grant that we who worship Christ in this holy mystery
may reverence him in the needy of this world
by lives poured out for the sake of that kingdom
where he lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen.  (Body and Blood of Christ; ICEL 1998)