In 1960 Pope John XXIII issued an inspiring Apostolic Letter about devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ (Inde a primis). He reminded us that the Precious Blood was poured out for us “first at his circumcision eight days after birth, and more profusely later on in his agony in the garden, in his scourging and crowning with thorns, in his climb to Calvary and crucifixion, and finally from the great wide wound in his side which symbolises the divine Blood cascading down into all the Church’s sacraments”. From our Lord’s consecration to the Father in the temple until the consummation of His redeeming work on the cross, His Precious Blood was poured out with ever increasing profusion.
The shedding of Christ’s Blood demonstrates the fidelity of God the Father towards us, and also reveals both the justice and the mercy entailed in the sacrifice made on Calvary in atonement for our sins. The sacraments are instituted through the outpouring of Christ’s Blood. “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, our souls may be refreshed with the grace that flows from the fount of all life, which is God Himself”.
In the Old Testament we read of the blood of Abel, shed by his brother Cain, crying out to God for vengeance from the dust of the earth. The response to this is that the Almighty expels Cain the murderer from the land, and condemns him to a life of hard labour. Conversely, through Christ’s Precious Blood freely given for our redemption, each one of us is rescued from exile and offered the chance to return to our rightful home, the heavenly Jerusalem.
The month of July is traditionally devoted to the Precious Blood. Let us do as the children of Israel did before us; let us seek to be sprinkled by the Blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with us, not a covenant sealed by the blood of bulls and goats, but something new and better – an eternal promise sealed by the Precious Blood of the Redeemer.
The Blood of the new and everlasting covenant does what the older covenants could not do. The animal blood sacrifices offered under the old dispensation were primitive signs of what was to come, but they did not do the job. Only the Precious Blood of Christ atones for sins, and only Christ can offer salvation to those who seek it.