“…but when they came to Jesus and saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” Jn. 19: 33-35. The footnote to this verse indicates John emphasizing the reality of Jesus’ death, against the docetic heretics. In the blood and water there may also be a symbolic reference to the Eucharist and baptism according to John.
Docetism, a Gnostic heresy with the belief that Jesus’ physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die.
Eucharist and Baptism; two most essential Sacraments of the Church and a great significance as seen in 1 Jn. 5; 6 “This is the one who came through water and blood. Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood.”
At Communion time during the Holy Mass most parishes share both the Body and Blood of Christ. Both elements are seen as bread and wine, yet we who believe that the Holy Spirit through the hands of the priest enters into these human products making them the living and real elements of the Crucified/Risen Christ.
When I am in the congregation and intently in tune with the priest, my thoughts during the consecration lean on the image of myself sitting across from Jesus and watch in awe as he holds the bread up and says “this is my body; and when he extends the chalice saying; “this is my blood”; I see myself clinging inside the wall of the chalice and his precious blood pouring down across my body and can sense the healing that only can come from this most endearing element from my loving God.
It is here that this writing takes a very profound thought and delves into the Sacred Blood of Christ, and the very depth of God’s love and total forgiveness for His creatures.
What are your thoughts as the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine, about to say the words of consecration, as in Transubstantiation, and calls upon the Holy Spirit to change these elements into the Body and Blood of Christ: cf CCC 1374 “This presence is called real-by which is not to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” Are your thoughts somewhere in the clouds, as we are easily distracted by events in our daily lives, or are you attentive to what is really occurring at that moment when the priest extends his hands over the gifts, makes the sign of the cross over them and lifts first the paten then the chalice offering the words of consecration? This is perhaps the most perfect time for a Roman Catholic to be in the presence of the Trinitarian existence.
My prayer, at the elevation of the consecrated species, goes like this; “Lord Jesus Christ, I eat your body and drink your blood, may it not bring me condemnation, but unto life that lasts forever.” Knowing that to receive the body and blood of Christ, sacrilegiously would be a deadening thing, especially when we know that this Sacrament is meant for our benefit and well-being. It is not just a memorial or just part of a celebration; it is life itself!
Which species of Holy Communion is most important? Can one receive the Precious Blood without first receiving the Body of Christ? Is it necessary to receive both elements to have shared in the communion? Let’s begin by learning that there are three ways to receive Holy Communion. First we may take just the host (body) in the hand or on the tongue. Second, we may either receive both species by intinction where the host is dipped into the Precious Blood and given to the communicate or receive the host then drink from the cup. (the method of intinction was taken out of the liturgy in most areas due to the fact that one should not receive in that manner on the hands). Great care must be taken to ensure that no drops of Precious Blood is spilled or dropped when doing communion this way. Third, the Holy Eucharist in the form of Precious Blood only may be given through an IV in the hospital or nursing facility by using an eye-dropper or similar utensil and adding it to the fluid being used for a patient. Here we see that we receive the total Body and Blood of Christ using both species or one or the other independently.
One other thought here is Jesus is the name given to the Son of God, by the angel to Mary. But when Jesus rose from the dead as in the Resurrection, He is now the Christ; Savior; and that is why we say at communion; Body of Christ-Blood of Christ. Many ministers of communion like to say the Body of Jesus or the Blood of Jesus. Good teaching on the Eucharist should be catechized to the ministers and one more thing; it doesn’t matter which hand the Body of Christ is received in.
Now I want to relate the power of the Precious Blood and how this real presence not only can change our appreciation of God’s love for us, but can become a reality connecting us to our Divine God.
Blood is the most crucial element a human can have, pumping life-giving nourishment through our arteries and returning through veins back to our hearts. It is purified through the various organs and brings oxygen to the brain. Of course the many paths blood travels throughout our body keeps us alive and usually without us ever being conscious of the biological events taking place. Without pure blood surging minute by minute throughout our system it would produce deadly disaster for each of us. Think if you might, what happens when one small injury to a vital part of our body is pierced and the bleeding could not be stopped. We would certainly die, in minutes without immediate medical attention.
First put yourself in the Garden at Gethsemane and Jesus said; “wait here while I pray.” To strengthen Jesus as he prayed an angel from heaven appeared. He was in such agony that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. Lk. 22: 43-44 First loss of precious blood.
Focus your attention to Jesus standing before Pilate, a trial of sorts; “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out, again, “Not this one but Barabbas!” Then Pilate had him scourged. Webster describes this as being whipped as in inflicting severe punishment; flogging, inflicting punishment and/or suffering upon a person. Picture, if you can, the wounds being opened and the body being torn apart with each lash of the whip. Jn. 18: 39 - 40
Second loss of precious blood.
They clothed him in purple and weaved a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. Imagine the thorns of a bush penetrating into the skull with wounds opening up and blood begins to come out. Mk. 15: 17 Third loss of precious blood.
They crucified Jesus and around three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice; “Eli, lema sabachthani? My God , my God, why have you forsaken me? Mt. 27: 46 Fourth loss of precious blood (crucifixion)
“…but when they came to Jesus and saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust a lance into his side, and immediately blood and water poured out.” Jn. 19: 33-35. Fifth and last event of the loss of precious blood.
Why are these events so crucial to this reflection? Each event in itself was more than enough to redeem humanity from its sins. Would one small event, even as painful as it was, be enough for us to believe the total forgiveness from Almighty God? No! It would take the theme of Divine Justice with the death/resurrection of Jesus now the Risen Christ for us to believe, but even that sometimes is the misunderstood conception from skeptics.
The point is there is no other element, theme, or event that can purify our lacking faith at times than the Precious Blood of Christ. When we pray, if we call down the Blood of Christ upon our most serious needs and doubts, this alone is an open door into the power of Almighty God and one of Power for our soul. There are three specific elements when we preach that are considered power. The name of Jesus Christ, the Cross, and the Precious Blood of Christ. Never neglect to call upon all three, but the Blood is one that covers our sins, and heals our troubled needs.