By Fr. Joe Uecker, C.PP.S.
(Editor’s Note: This essay was originally published on the website of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood on July 1, which is the Feast of the Precious Blood. The Renewal Center is sponsored by The Missionaries of the Precious Blood, a religious order in the Roman Catholic church. Their spirituality inspires and animates the work of the Renewal Center. We present this article so that people who come to the Renewal Center better understand our work.)
A feast of love! That’s what we celebrate today as we thank Jesus for pouring out his life blood for us. A feast of love!
In our Litany of the Precious Blood, we pray: “Blood of Christ, without which there is no forgiveness.” This could be understood to mean that God demanded blood in order to forgive the human race. Is that the kind of God you want? Would you be convinced that God is really on our side? I wouldn’t.
I prefer to think of the Blood of Jesus as the sacrament, the outward, visible sign of Jesus’ love for us. I prefer to think of God sending Jesus to Earth with the mission: Love our people. No matter what it might cost, love them. Show them how much we love them. This is what Jesus did. For that we killed him.
We made his Blood flow to the last drop. What greater sign of love could there be? And because of that love, we are forgiven; we who were once far off have become near by the Blood of Jesus.
Jesus’ words to his disciples at the Last Supper also show us his great love: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” When I hear this, I think of a condemned prisoner about to have his last meal before execution. I cannot imagine having that last meal alone. I don’t think I could eat. But if I were with a close friend, that would make all the difference in the world.
In his humanity, Jesus also needed support for what he was about to endure out of love for us. So he gathered his closest friends.
Love is never free. The price of love is high. Just ask a married couple. The longer they are together, the more they realize how high the price is. Yet after 25, 50 or 60 years, if they have loved each other as best they could, they will be the first to tell you with a great smile that all the hardship was worth it. Love is its own reward.
In a sense, Jesus had no choice but to pour out his Blood because he had made the decision to love us totally. It was the decision of humanity that he would pour out his blood. We took advantage of his love; we took him at his word: “I love you totally.”
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that “Jesus was not yes one minute and no the next; he was only yes.” This is the new covenant in his blood, which was shed for us. Because of that, we “are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God. Glory to the Blood of Jesus!
[A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fr. Joe Uecker, C.PP.S., has spent over 40 years in ministry in the Diocese of San Angelo, Tex. He served as pastor in San Angelo, Sweetwater, Abilene and Odessa. Since retiring in 2011, he continues to live in Odessa.]