July 1, 2017
There Will Be Blood
Dear Members, Companions, and Friends,
Recently, the New York Times’ film critics listed their 25 best films of the 21st century so far. At the top of the list was the film that has nothing to do with the feast we celebrate on July 1st except the title. Their choice as the best film of the century so far is the 2007 movie, There Will Be Blood, about a money and land-grabbing oilman played by Daniel Day-Lewis who won his second of three Academy Awards as Best Actor for the role. The film depicts the eternal struggle between the things of earth and those of heaven, between God and greed, as a preacher plays the major foil for the oil man.
But in assessing the film, a line from one of the critics, A.O. Scott, is what stays with me. He wrote, “I never tire of thinking about There Will Be Blood. But every time I watch it, I find it out runs my thoughts.” I find myself in the same situation regarding this feast of the Precious Blood. I never tire of thinking about the blood of Christ, and yet every time I try to write about it, I find it outruns my thoughts. But this year, I invite us to think about three key words that reflect our spirituality: remembrance, recognition, and remain.
Throughout the Scriptures, memory plays such an important role in our life of faithful witness. In the book of Deuteronomy, we hear Moses say to the people, “Remember how for 40 years God directed you” and “Do not forget God who brought out of slavery.” In the gospel for today’s feast, we hear Jesus telling his disciples as he offers them his body and blood on the night before he died to “do this in memory of me.”
As pilgrims of the precious blood, we are to keep this memory alive in our relationships with one another and with all with whom we journey as we seek to live our spirituality with intentionality and inclusivity. We keep this memory alive by remembering how the blood of Christ frees us from slavery to sin as we seek to break the chains of whatever enslaves our brothers and sisters in our world today. We live this memory when we open doors when others want to slam them shut. We live this memory when we build bridges instead of walls. We live this memory when we confront the callousness of our world with the compassion of God found in the blood of Christ who seeks to draw all near. “For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh (Ephesians 2, 14).”
We live this memory by recognizing the image of Christ in the poor, the hungry, the victim, the immigrant, the stranger, the imprisoned, the depressed, the weary, the wounded, the aged, the lonely, the fearful and the forgotten. This is what it means to be blood brothers and sisters in Christ: all creation and all creatures are our cathedral and everyone is part of the body and blood of Christ.
To recognize Christ in one another means we actively engage in the problems and issues confronting our world. We do not stand on the sidelines but rather roll up our sleeves and get down on our knees to wash the dusty feet of all who are part of this journey to God. Too many in our world see what is happening and offer their opinion from their perch safe and secure on the sidelines. Our founder, St. Gaspar, challenges us to read the signs of our times and respond with the force of our faith, the compassion of our charism, and the reconciliation revealed in our spirituality: “In our miserable times…the crisis among the people is a general one. Consequently, is it not time to stir up our apostolic zeal and follow the light given to souls especially favored by God…to recall to the minds of people the inestimable price of our redemption and excite them to penance and tears? Does not Sacred Scripture trace for us this reform by ‘making peace through the Blood of his cross’ for those in heaven as well as those on earth”?
Finally, there is that word from the Gospel of John when Jesus says to his disciples, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.” What does it mean to “remain in Christ”? When we remain, we are faithful to our call. Remain implies fidelity. It speaks of a commitment in good and glorious times and difficult and dangerous ones. Indeed, our lives of fidelity reflects our call to be the living memory of God’s love and action in the world.
As we celebrate the feast that forms our missionary identity, I pray these three words—remembrance, recognition, and remain—will encourage us to live our spirituality more intentionally. Because, in the words of Saint Maria De Mattias, “The Blood of Jesus is our only hope and our only Good—this Blood, shed with so much pain and so much love for our eternal salvation. Let our hearts be filled with courage, fearing nothing, not even death, so that every moment the Precious Blood be glorified, loved and blessed by all!
I will be celebrating the feast with our Jubilarians at St. Charles. I plan to return in time for our celebration at Precious Blood Renewal Center on Sunday, July 2, at 4:00 PM. I hope many of you can join us for prayer and a cookout. On behalf of the Leadership Team, may the blessings of the Blood of Christ be yours as we celebrate our Feast Day!
With peace in the blood of Christ,
Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.