Monday, July 2, 2018
Then Christ took a cup, and when He had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” – Matthew 26:27-29
Moses slaughtered the bull and took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on all the horns of the altar to purify the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. So he consecrated it to make atonement for it. – Leviticus 8:15
I am one who believes that the crucifixion was, at least in part, the closing act of blood sacrifice required by the Old Ways. From that moment on, the sins of the people would be washed away by the work of the Spirit and the Spirit’s work through the agency of merciful humanity. From that moment on, it would the processes of repentance and forgiveness that would restore the Oneness both with God and with one another. No more bulls to be slaughtered in rituals of atonement, no more lambs to be sacrificed for the sins of mortal. At least, this was the hope and intention of Christ pouring out of the wine of his own sacrifice.
Yet, the Church through the centuries has far too often turned to punishment and violence, to casting out and to shaming, to deal with sins of others. Too often the Church was so preoccupied with judging that it had little time for confessing. Too often the Church kept spilling blood both figuratively and literally in their claim of advancing the Kingdom of God.
In our present times, we tend to punish the “sinners”, the “wayward souls, the “flawed ones”, the “heretics”, not so much with swords, but with words used in the manner of swords. We tend not to burn them at the stake but to banish them from our midst. We tend to see ourselves as the “righteous” rather than the “sinner forgiven”.
I remember the tears in the eyes and the voice of an old veteran of World War II. In commenting on military parade in our local town, he said to me …”So many of my friends died not so that we might fight yet another war, but that we might make an end of war. Yet, we keep preparing for the next war to be fought. For some reason, we love war too much.”
The sacrifice made by Christ … was made to change our ways … but, at times, I find that change is something reluctant for people and a land to make.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz