‘I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies…’
(Joseph Mary Plunkett)
Most of us will remember this beautiful poem, The Presence of God, from our childhood. It is a memorable comment on God’s magnificence infusing all creation. Along with God’s beauty there is of course the powerful reference to blood, God’s blood. It is interesting to ask ourselves when did we first encounter blood. Perhaps our own blood, perhaps the blood of another. Blood is our life force. It is basic. It is core. It is as central to us as breath and water.
When did you first encounter blood? Was it your own blood, oozing out of your cut knee? Was it your classmates unexpected nose bleed? Was it a story of heroes in battle and the ensuing bloodshed? Was it a horror movie with a blood sucking vampire? Were you inspired by the musical Blood Brothers? Have you a blood brother, a blood sister?
Maybe it was later on. Maybe somebody said to you ‘it’s in your blood!’
Did they mean that as a compliment or reprimand?
Did they mean it’s in your blood, in your nature, in your genes, in your make up….
It’s in your blood to speak up for yourself……to be moody…..to see the humour in everything…..to argue…..
Did you ever donate blood? Do you realise that blood donations are very important?
Do you realize that certain types of blood, perhaps yours, is in bigger demand than others?
Are you aware that blood is in greater demand at certain times of year?
Do you know your blood type?
Do you know the association between blood transfusion and the pelican?
Did you know that in medieval Europe, it was believed that whenever food grew scarce, mother pelicans would intentionally stab themselves on the breast with their beaks and then use the blood to feed their chicks?
Our blood can have too much sugar, too much cholesterol, our blood can have a disorder.
Our blood pressure is important, too high and too low.
What about bloodshed? The blood of the martyrs. The blood of the Irish Martyrs.
Would you give your life for a cause? For Irish Freedom?
Would you spill your blood for your faith? For your family?
Would you put yourself in danger to defend your children?
Finally what of what we call the precious blood? The blood of the Lamb.
The body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ…
‘In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks,he gave it to his disciples saying, Take this, all of you, and drink from it. For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me…’
Why do we refer to the ‘precious’ blood? Is not all blood precious? Yes but if it’s the blood of the Son of God. If it’s the blood of the Saviour of the world. If it’s divine blood shed, spilt, poured out for you, for me. Out of love. Because we are loved. Loved beyond measure.