I was in 6th grade. And awkward. I totally rocked the word “awkward.” I was all boy-short hair and limbs. Rockin’ my 80’s hairspray and teeth I hadn’t quite grown into yet, I made awkward pubescent middle-schooler look good. With all this going for me, why add insult to injury?? Well, why not?? (Pun intended – you’ll see that later).
Easter – 1986. We were attending a joyous “after party” at my dad’s successful choral-directing-majesty called an Easter Cantata. Food was eaten, games were played, and we kids ran around like the crazed sugar-injected youngins’ we were. Pause: Let me just insert the fact that Wyoming – where I grew up – is a VERY dry state. Those of you who live in humid climates – were you to visit – would probably shrivel up and blow away in the almost-as-awesome Wyoming wind. It was so dry that April day that, upon rubbing my nose, a double barrel nosebleed ensued. This was no ordinary nosebleed. It was the Queen Mother of Ridiculous. I abandoned my friends outside, trotted my awkward limbs inside seeking adult assistance. One hour, rolls of toilet paper, my mom, and a nurse couldn’t put my nose back together again…so began The Emergency Room Visit of Easter 1986.
This was in the midst of a huge media campaign to bring awareness to a little known or understood virus and subsequent disease called AIDS. Because of my avid media gazing, I sat in the ER with blood gushing from both nostrils absolutely CONVINCED I would need a blood transfusion, contract a horrible disease, and die a super-lame death. I actually voiced that concern to the doctor and could see that my concerns were not being taken seriously, as both the doctor and my mom tried hard to not laugh in my face. Apparently, in my limited 6th-grade science medical knowledge of how the body works, I was unaware that you would actually have to lose a LOT more blood than I did. Crisis averted, they packed my nose full of gauze and sent me home. The next day, I was taken to the doctor who (if you have a weak stomach, skip this part), burned the vessels closed inside my nose. He then re-packed the gauze in my nose, put a giant white piece under my nose with tape which crossed back over my nose, landing in an “X” on my forehead – oh and just wait for it – ANOTHER piece of gauze over the bridge of my nose, tape splaying over both cheeks. I now looked like an awkward… deformed… bird. I’ll skip the part where my parents made me go to school that next day and everyone chirped at me, called me “Little Bird,” and years later my principal says that is the one thing he remembers about me. Sigh.
This was all over a little blood.
The same goes for today’s readings. It’s all about Blood. Think about that word for a second. What does the word “blood” bring to mind?? Quite frankly, that image brings too much to my mind because, you see, blood is a multi-tasker. Blood is violence, hate, disease, and death – yet blood heals, brings hope, brings a blush to our cheeks and, most importantly…brings life. We analogize that our blood “boils” and that it might “run ice cold.” It has taken center-stage and become all the rage in every vampire love-triangle scenario – in those, it is death and it is life. Eternal life. Such a beautifully dramatic paradox – blood.
Yet, this amazingly brilliant paradox is how our beautiful Church reconciles it – how it is meant to be seen. Every Sunday, today, we celebrate it. We remember the death of the One who loved us enough to literally sweat blood at the weight of our sin. He offered Himself, Body & Blood, soul & divinity, letting the life, His life, drain from angry hate-inflicted wounds so that we would know the Eternal. In fact, His Blood speaks to us. In Genesis 4:10, God says that Abel’s blood “speaks” to Him from the ground, and today, we celebrate how His Divine Blood speaks to us. Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We celebrate a covenant – a promise unto death. Three times in today’s readings we see that blood is used to signify that promise – in Exodus 24:8, Hebrews 9:15 and again in Mark 14:24. The Blood is the promise. Today, we remember His death and in that death – promise – the promise of eternal life, and we are transformed. God speaks to us profoundly from the Blood His Son shed for our faults and failings. The only question is, does His word and deed through this sacrifice transform our hearts? If He is truly in our hearts, we are changed forever and His Love courses through our veins, pulsing with each word and action which leads back to our hearts and, as a result, burn to make Him known. We must be unafraid, my friends, to know Him and make Him known. We must be unafraid to bring the hope of this divine covenant to those who may not have heard His voice – His Blood – speak to them. Today, we bring Truth to a world that doesn’t want to believe there is an absolute Truth. Today, we bring the light into the dark places. Today, we sacrifice ourselves at the service of the One who bore the brunt of our sin. Today, we bow down and worship the Blood that runs “love.”