Vol I No. 7
From the Quarterly

Fifth Friday in Lent: Thomas Aquinas and Commentary

by William J. Martin



The Precious Blood

1.Through the blood of Christ the New Testament was confirmed. This chalice is the New Testament in my blood (i Cor. xi. 25). Testament has a double meaning.

(i) It may mean any kind of agreement or pact.

Now God has twice made an agreement with mankind. In one pact God promised man temporal prosperity and deliverance from temporal losses,and this pact is called the Old Testament. In another pact God promised man spiritual blessings and deliverance from spiritual losses, and this is called the New Testament. I will make a new covenant, saith the Lord, with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt : but this shall be the covenant : I will give my law in their bosoms and I will write it in their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people (]er. xxxi. 31-3 3).

The Old Testament comprises the Law that relates to external and physical life. It has to do with ordinances that prepare a man for another Law. But before the New Law can be written into men’s hearts, they must realize what the Old Law says to and about them. The Old Law tells man that he is a sinner and unable to save himself from his sin. Man is guided therefore into a taming of his human nature that prepares him for the deeper spiritual obedience that comes through the New Law. Through his senses in relation to the external and visible world, man is tempted to idolatry. Man must be disciplined through the Letter of the Law to obey his Maker and wait for the fulfillment of the Spirit of the Law in his life. Man must realize that his creation and preservation are in the hands of God. His salvation and deliverance are also in the hands of God. Man is impotent and meaningless without God.

Among the ancients it was customary to pour out the blood of some victim in confirmation of a pact. This Moses did when, taking the blood, he sprinkled it upon the people and he said, This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you (Exod. xxiv. 8). As the Old Testament or pact was thus confirmed in the figurative blood of oxen, so the New T Testament or pact was confirmed in the blood of Christ, shed during his Passion.

The first covenant is established with the bloodletting of animals. The second demands the bloodletting of Man. The first is made in relation to man’s animal nature. The second is made in relation to his spiritual nature. The first is conditional and temporary. The second is conditional and final. Through the first man prepares his nature for the second. Through the first, man becomes a creature of faith, hope, and love through obedience and patience. Through the second man becomes a creature of faith, hope, and love through the same obedience and patience but now as a living member of his restored and redeemed Human Nature through the Death And Resurrection that Christ effects. The first covenant establishes the distance and difference –the radical unlikeness between man and his Maker. The second covenant reunites the two natures in the one Person of Christ.

(ii) Testament has another more restricted meaning when it signifies the arrangement of an inheritance among the different heirs, i.e., a will.Testaments, in this sense, are only confirmed by the death of the testator. As St. Paul says, For a testament is of force, after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth (Heb. ix. 17). God, in the beginning, made an arrangement of the eternal inheritance we were to receive, but under the figure of temporal goods. This is the Old Testament. But afterwards He made the New Testament, explicitly promising the eternal inheritance, which indeed was confirmed by the blood of the death of Christ. And therefore, Our Lord, speaking of this, says, This chalice is the new testament in my blood (i Cor. xi. 25), as though to say, By that which is contained in this chalice, the new testament, confirmed in the blood of Christ, is commemorated. (I Cor. xii.)

A Testament signifies a will for those who are to inherit from the deceased. The Old Testament is about earthly inheritance and what comes to man through a death in time and space. What comes to him most significantly is a death that establishes the truth of man’s alienation from God. The literal inheritance of the Jews is temporal and relates to what they receive in this lifetime. This is a type that points to a greater inheritance, which is eternal and unchanging. The spiritual inheritance relates to man’s eternal destiny. What he is promised is a life that will be forever blessed in communion with God his Maker and Redeemer. But man cannot inherit this promise without the shedding of Christ’s blood and His Death. Christ must become the priest and victim in order that through His spotless Human Nature He might pass on to His friends the inheritance of victory over sin, death, and Satan. And so through Christ’s Death a new kind of inheritance is purchased. This inheritance is spiritual and comes to the man who sees his need of Christ, desires Christ, and wills to become a member of the new Body of Christ. So man inherits ‘the means of Grace and the hope of glory’ if he wills to embrace it in his life. 

2. There are other things which make the blood of Christ precious.

(i) It is : A cleansing of our sins and uncleanness. Jesus Christ hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Apoc. i. 5).

Christ sheds His blood willingly and resolutely so that the Man may die now in Goodness, through Goodness, and for the sake of the Goodness that He will infuse into the redeemed Human Nature of His New Body. Christ is perfectly pure and holy. His sacrifice is the new offering of Man’s body, soul, and spirit to God. This sacrifice re-commemorates the life of Man, the life of ‘the Adam’, to God. Through Him we are invited into that Human Nature alone which purifies, cleanses, and washes away sin. Through His Death we enter the Death of our old man, that in and through Him alone the new man may come alive. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. xv. 22)

(ii) Our redemption, Thou hast redeemed us in Thy blood (ibid. v. 9).

We are made right with God through this blood sacrifice of Christ. We are reconciled to our Maker through this redeemed life, knowledge, and will of the God-Man and Man-God. Two alienated beings are now united into one Life. The Life, Light, Love of Jesus Christ are shared as the mediating and advocating Person invites us into the Good News, the Gospel of Redemption that He is. He is the Word that unites man to God and God to man. This Word is made flesh and now longs to be made flesh again and again in the members of His Body. Redeemed Human Nature can be found only in the Body that obeys its Head or Mind, Christ the Word. Without God’s Word being made flesh in us, we are not members of His Body.

(iii) The peacemaker between us and God and His angels, making peace through the blood of His cross, both as to the things that are on earth and the things that are in the heavens (Coloss. i. 20).

The Peacemaking of the Redeemer begins on the Cross. ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ (Luke xxxiii. 34) Today they hate us; tomorrow they may love us. ‘Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.’(Ibid, 43) Repentance is met with hope and promise. ‘Woman, behold thy Son…[Son] behold thy mother’ (John xix. 26,27) His new Body is already being formed out of the raw materials of faithful human nature. Christ lovingly sheds His blood to make Peace for us with the Father. He knows that we cannot die this Death that He dies, and so He dies it for us. This is shown when He cries, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me’ (Matthew xxvii. 46) This is the cry of the suffering Man who is not yet relieved, saved, or delivered. This is the pain of humanity’s exile from God, which only Christ can see, know, and experience perfectly. This is the condition that only the perfectly faithful Man who is taken into God can feel. Christ feels it for us. At this point Man’s soul and spirit have been emptied completely. ‘After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.’ (John xix. 28) The new Man is rising.

(iv) A draught of life to all who receive it. Drink ye all of this (Matt. xxvi. 27). That they might drink the purest blood of the grape (Deut. xxxii. 14).

Wine maketh glad the heart of man. (Ps.civ. 15) Christ’s Blood is the New Wine that sanctifies and saves a man. Its regular and habitual ingestion is necessary so that His Blood is flowing through the veins and arteries of His New Body. Without His Blood, the Body is lifeless and dead. His Blood cleanses and purifies, and then incorporates and establishes us as those who desire to be members of His Body. His Blood –if we discern it faithfully, is what must continuously enable us to fear the Father alone, obey the Father alone, do the Father’s will alone. His Blood is the spiritual animation that brings us alive to the Word of the Father that He is. His Blood quickens us into deepest desire to obey and follow Him.

(v) The opening of the gate of heaven. Having therefore brethren, a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ (Heb. x. 19), that is to say,a continuous prayer for us to God. For His blood daily cries for us to the Father, as again we are told, You are come to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel. (ibid. xii. 22-24). The blood of Abel called for punishment. The blood of Christ calls for pardon.

Christ is our only mediator and advocate. His Bloodletting is the cry and plea for pardon. His Blood shed for us is nothing other than His desire for our salvation. He has shed His blood that we might live. He has shed His blood that we might understand. He has shed His blood that we might love. His Blood has been shed and He longs that it continue to be shed into the hearts and souls of the members of His Body in time and in space. He Body extends from eternity into time. He desires that His all-healing Blood be poured in and out of the New Man, who lives on in time and space, in the Church. This Blood overcomes and conquers believers’ sins with virtue and holiness. The Blood is to be poured out of them for all others, as His Sacrifice becomes the pattern for all Godly living in His Body. His Blood is poured our through the lives of His members as they pray for and desire the salvation of all men. His Blood must be poured out continuously if His Body in time and space is moved by Him.