The Power of Christís Blood,
Homily for Good Friday
St. John Chrysostom (349-407)
If we wish to understand the power of Christís blood, we
should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration
in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, commanded Moses,
and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him
what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could
possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that
the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact
that it is a sign of the Lordís blood. In those days, when the
destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to
enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees,
not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the
lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.
If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember
where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from
the Masterís side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead,
but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side
with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now
the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the Holy Eucharist.
The soldier pierced the Lordís side, he breached the wall of the sacred
temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with
the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.
There flowed from his side water and blood. Beloved, do not pass over
this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning,
which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized
baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church
is born: from baptism, the cleansing water that gives rebirth and
renewal through the Holy Spirit, and from the holy Eucharist. Since
the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it
was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned
Eve from the side of Adam. Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the
story of the first man and makes him exclaim: Bone from my bones and flesh
from my flesh! As God then took a rib from Adamís side to fashion a woman,
so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church.
God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ
gave us the blood and the water after his own death.
Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what
food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought
into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood
and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom
he himself has given life.
The Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings For Good Friday
The Power of the Blood and Water from the Side of Jesus Christ
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