The Script

One of the most common questions people have about Jesus is why, after He has healed people, He instructs them not to tell anyone else what He has done. The answer is that Jesus knows there is a script for His life, as if He is acting out a dramatic play written by someone else.

And, in fact, that's exactly what Jesus is doing. The script was written by His Father. And there are co-authors, those prophets and King David who described events in the life of Jesus hundreds of years before Jesus even set foot on earth.

Jesus is keenly aware of the two main components of the script: 1) the content, the actions and events, and 2) the timing. He knows that the timing is just as important as the content, and so He is careful for events not to take place too early or too late.

The details of the script are quite amazing. The one that I find especially intriguing is in Mark 14:13. Jesus is giving His disciples instructions regarding where they will celebrate the Passover meal. He says to two of them: "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him." That's it. We know nothing about this man, who he is or how Jesus knows that he will be in the city and will somehow make contact with the two disciples. 

There is a script for each of our lives as well. In Psalm 139:15-16, the Psalmist writes as follows:

"When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth, your [God's] eyes foresaw my actions; in your book, all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be."

Especially during Holy Week, it is good for us to reflect on how, like Jesus, we can seek to discern the script God has written for our lives and how we can be completely faithful to that script. We can seek forgiveness for any wrong turns we might have taken and ask God to help us get back on track.

The Blind Man's Prayer

One of the Lenten scrutinies for those entering the Church at Easter includes a prayer based upon the passage about Jesus' healing of the blind man in Chapter 9 of John's gospel. This past week, my pastor modified this prayer as part of his reflections on that passage. I liked it so much that I made similar modifications and recommend the following prayer for your frequent use:

Father of mercy,
you led the man born blind
to the kingdom of light
through the gift of faith in your Son.

Free us from the false values that surround and blind us.
Set us firmly in your truth,
children of the light forever.

You are the true light that enlightens the world.
Through your Spirit of truth
free those who are enslaved to the father of lies.

Stir up the desire for good in those who seek to follow you.

Let them rejoice in your light, that they may see,
and, like the man born blind whose sight you restored,
let them prove to be staunch and fearless witnesses to the faith,
for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Drinking from the Cup

I hope the blog entitled "Making the Mystery Real" provided a helpful explanation of the dynamics of the Eucharist and how all of us can participate in a powerful way in the sacrament of Holy Communion. There's another aspect of the Eucharist that I'd like to address now, and that's the meaning behind drinking the Blood of Jesus from the cup.

The "blood covenant" is one of the great themes of the Bible, one that every Christian should know. It's developed in a more comprehensive manner in the Resources section of this website under a document called "The Power of the Blood of Jesus."

After Cain has killed Abel as described in the Book of Genesis, he is confronted by God. When Cain gets defensive, God exclaims: "Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground!" The theme of Abel's blood crying out from the ground so moved Shakespeare that he refers to it in many of his tragedies. It's a clue that God hears that cry and is going to respond to it.

In the Book of Leviticus, God tells Moses that the Israelites are not to consume the blood of any animal, because, He says, "the life of every living creature is in its blood." The idea is that the essence, the identity, of every living creature is captured in its blood. A human would not consume the blood of an animal because that would amount to merging the life of a lower form of creature with a human being.

Back in the early days of Judaism, a "blood covenant" was a recognized method of ritualizing a peace treaty between two warring factions. Each group would have sent one representative forward, each of whom would cut himself and put some of his blood into a single cup. The two representatives would have then drunk from that one cup, symbolizing that from that moment on the lives of the two factions were now completely united.

So when Jesus, at the Last Supper, raised a cup of wine and said that it was his blood, the blood of a new covenant, the apostles would have known that he was offering them the opportunity to unite with His very life. They would have been shocked, but they would have understood the power of what He was doing.

Drinking from the cup of Jesus' blood in the Eucharist gives us the most powerful means possible of uniting our life with the life of Jesus. His identity, the very essence of who He is, is commingled with our own flesh, with our own blood.

There's one more aspect of drinking from the cup that must be understood. When we drink from the cup, it means that we, too, hear the cry of Abel's blood. The cry of Abel's blood is the cry of every person in the world who is starving, abused, falsely imprisoned, aborted and so on. When we drink from the cup, by the power of the grace we receive from being united with the divine life of Jesus, we are committing to hear the cry of Abel's blood in our world and respond to that cry. As Saint John Chrysostom once said, "If we knew the commitment we were supposed to be making when we participate in the Eucharist, our legs would be trembling."

In Chapter 20 of Matthew's gospel, Jesus asks James and John if they can drink from the chalice from which He will drink. Not knowing what He means, they say "Yes." Now that we know what it means, Jesus puts the same question to us. Can we drink from the cup that Jesus offers us? Do we realize the power that is available to us when we receive the Blood of Jesus? And do we accept the responsibility that comes with having access to that power?