Consanguinity

During the first days of Holy Week, the Red Cross sponsored a blood drive on the Boston College campus. The generosity of the young students in donating their blood was an inspiration, and the sight of them prone on tables as their blood dripped into the receptacles to be used for the good of others was an image that I carried with me throughout the Paschal Triduum.The Vatican website has posted Pope Benedict's homilies for the Triduum. As usual, they are splendid. Here is an excerpt from his Holy Thursday homily:

Scholars tell us that in those ancient times of which the histories of Israels forefathers speak, to ratify a Covenant means to enter with others into a bond based on blood or to welcome the other into ones own covenant fellowship and thus to enter into a communion of mutual rights and obligations. In this way, a real, if non-material form of consanguinity is established. The partners become in some way brothers of the same flesh and the same bones. The covenant brings about a fellowship that means peace. Can we now form at least an idea of what happened at the hour of the Last Supper, and what has been renewed ever since, whenever we celebrate the Eucharist? God, the living God, establishes a communion of peace with us, or to put it more strongly, he creates consanguinity between himself and us. Through the incarnation of Jesus, through the outpouring of his blood, we have been drawn into an utterly real consanguinity with Jesus and thus with God himself. The blood of Jesus is his love, in which divine life and human life have become one. Let us pray to the Lord, that we may come to understand ever more deeply the greatness of this mystery. Let us pray that in our innermost selves its transforming power will increase, so that we truly acquire consanguinity with Jesus, so that we are filled with his peace and grow in communion with one another.

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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