‘Do you wish to know of the power of Christ’s blood? Let us go back to the ancient accounts of what took place in Egypt, where Christ’s blood is foreshadowed.
Moses said: “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish and smear the doors with its blood”. What does this mean? Can the blood of a sheep without reason save man who is endowed with reason? Yes, Moses replied, not because it is blood because it is a figure of the Lord’s blood. So today if the devil sees, not the blood of the figure smeared on the doorposts, but the blood of the reality smeared on the lips of the faithful, which are the doors of the temple of Christ, with all the more season will he draw back.
Do you wish to learn from another source the power of this blood? See where it began to flow, from what spring it flowed down from the cross, from the Master’s side. The gospel relates that when Christ had died and was still hanging on the cross, the soldier approached him and pierced his side with the spear, and at once there came out water and blood. The one was a symbol of baptism, the other side of mysteries. That soldier, then, pierced his side: he breached the wall of the holy temple, and I found the treasure and acquired the wealth. Similarly with the lamb. The Jews slaughtered it in sacrifice, and I gathered the fruit of that sacrifice - salvation.
“There came out from his side water and blood”. Dearly beloved, do not pass the secret of this great mystery by without reflection. For I have another secret mystical interpretation to give. I said that baptism and the mysteries were symbolised in that blood and water. It is from these two that the holy Church has been born “by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit,” by baptism and the mysteries. Now the symbols of baptism and the mysteries came from his side. It was from his side, then, that Christ formed the Church, as from the side of Adam he formed Eve.
That is why in his account of the first man Moses has the words, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” giving us a hint here of the Master’s side. For as at time God took a rib from Adam’s side and formed woman, so Christ gave us blood and water from his side and formed the Church. Just as then he took the rib while Adam was in a deep sleep, so now he gave the blood and water after his death.
Have you seen how Christ has united his bride to himself? Have you seen with what kind of food he feeds us all? By the same food we are formed and are fed. As a woman feeds her child with her own blood and milk, so too Christ himself continually feeds those whom he had begotten with his own blood”’.
from the instructions to the catechumens
by St John Chrysostom, c.349-407
O God of truth and love, who gavest to thy Bishop John Chrysostom eloquence to declare thy righteousness
in the great congregation, and courage to bear reproach for the honour of thy Name:
mercifully grant to the ministers of thy Word such excellence in preaching;
that all people may share with them in the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Divine Worship: The Missal
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian