By Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap.
Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently
than that of Abel.
One of my favorite passages of the letter to the Hebrews compares the blood of the innocent Abel to the innocent Christ. The author is, in fact, referring to the passage in the book of Genesis where the Lord questions Cain after the murder of his brother. Cain attempts to push off the Lord’s questioning; the Lord responds to by saying that Abel’s blood cries out to God from the earth. Abel’s blood is, in reality, testimony against Cain, and, quite frankly, all violence, all blood, and all death.
What better time, then, to hear this passage from Hebrews, because at any moment when flipping on the television, radio, or a favorite web browser, we see the blood of the innocent crying out. Yet, as Christians, there is something greater than the blood of Abel active in the world. We know of the blood of the Innocent One, Christ Jesus, who is both the priest and the sacrifice who has poured out his blood so that we may be washed cleaned.
And this is, perhaps more than anything else that we will hear today, Good News. The reason is that if we are honest with ourselves, we can all admit that we havespilled blood. We’ve all hurt the reputations of others, we have all failed to show mercy, and we have all failed to be compassionate to our neighbors (and if we are to take the Gospel seriously, we have failed to show it to our enemies as well.)
But, as a wise friar once said to me, “remember the blood”.
In other words, it is not the blood that we have spilled which has the final word. The blood of Christ, in fact, is more than simple testimony. The blood that we have spelled, though it testifies against us, does not have the power to condemn. Instead, it is Christ’s blood that poured from his side on the cross which overwhelms any condemnation we deserve.
We have seen much blood in these past days: it belongs to the victims of ISIS, to the shattered lives of commuters in New York, and in the garden-variety indignities experienced in our cities or towns in our homes. In all these moments, we are called to remember the blood. We must remember, however, not only the blood that we have spilled, but also the blood that cleanses, that gives life, the blood of the one true high priest, Jesus the Christ, Who lives and reigns in unity with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen!