July 1, 2018
“Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off
Have become near by the blood of Christ.”
Ephesians 2, 13
As we celebrate the feast that give us our name, a story told by a man I’ll call Larry comes to mind about the evening he was playing Scrabble with his 83-year-old father. His Dad had terminal cancer and knew he did not have much time left. But this particular evening, his father was especially restless, as if there was something on his mind that he needed to say. Finally, his father said to Larry, “You probably know the story about your mother.”
Larry said his parents had been divorced for forty years and she had passed away about two years before. “I’ve heard the rumors,” Larry said.
“You knew she had an affair?” his Dad asked. Larry said he had heard that his Mom had an affair, but he wasn’t sure how much he should admit knowing about it.
His father then told him about the day in 1961 he had come home from work early and found his brother pretending to be asleep in the recliner while Larry’s mother emerged from the bedroom straightening her apron. Larry said his father didn’t want to believe that his wife had been unfaithful to him with his own brother, but he suspected something.
Nine months later, Larry was born.
“So,” his father said after a long pause. “If you want to have a blood test to see if I am really you father, it’d would be okay with me.”
Larry said that his father rarely showed emotion and he knew how difficult it was for him to have this conversation. Though he was stunned by the possibility that his uncle could be his biological father, he said to his Dad, “You have always been my father. I don’t need a blood test to prove that.”
His Dad smiled slightly and they returned playing Scrabble.
We don’t need a blood test to know that every person is a child of God—no exceptions—and that we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We are the body of Christ and our relationship in this new covenant is symbolized most eloquently and eternally in the blood of Christ.
When we gather at the table of Eucharist, we celebrate our belonging to one another. “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” A body broken and bruised but beautiful to behold and to hold. A body wounded and scarred but whose heart is still beating and breathing with life. A body betrayed but still believing in the best that is in each one of us.
“And likewise, the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.’” The contents of this cup hold the truth of our being and the meaning of our belonging. This is the cup of the new covenant. This is the wine of compassion. This cup holds the forgiveness of our sins: drink it up!
The only blood test we need is to believe that true reconciliation in the blood of Christ is found in this simple and enduring proposition: we are all children of God, blood brothers and sisters who are in relationship with one another and with God. The true test is to embrace the challenge to live as blood brothers and sisters in Christ in a world that is so often divided and polarized, believing that the power of the Blood of Christ will give us the courage and compassion to stand with those “who once were far off” but “have become near by the blood of Christ.”
I will be traveling to Fort Wayne, Indiana this Sunday to celebrate with Fathers Joe Uecker and Dennis Schaab their 50th Anniversary of Ordination at their home parish, Precious Blood Church. Their classmate, Father Mike Volkmer, and Father Bill Walter will also concelebrate. Then we will travel to Carthagena for the Feast Day celebration with our Jubilarians on July 2. On behalf of the Leadership Team, may the blood of Christ give us all good courage to recognize each person as brother and sister, and to be ministers of hope and healing in our broken world. A Blessed Feast Day!
With peace in the blood of Christ,
Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.