The Precious Blood of Risen Christ: Our Ransom for New Life!
Readings: 1st: Acts 2: 14.22-33; Ps 15: 1-2. 5-11; 2nd: 1Pt 1: 17-21; Gos Jh 24: 13-35)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this 3rd Sunday of Easter, we continue to appreciate God’s love for us by allowing his only son Jesus Christ to die for us and triumph over death through his resurrection in order that we ourselves might have life anew. Hence this Sunday, the Church enjoins us to continue to be joyful this season because Jesus Christ has not only ransomed us with his precious and priceless blood from the useless way of life handed down to us, and made known to us the true way of life, but most importantly, he is with us always. He continues with us in the way of life through the scriptures (liturgy of the word) and in the breaking of bread (liturgy of the Eucharist), both of which form the core of the Mass.
While reflecting on today’s readings especially on the second, I recalled the story told a couple of years ago about paying of ransom. The story has it that in a certain diocese, a priest was kidnapped by some mischief makers who considered it the easiest means of making cheap and quick money. Afterwards they contacted the bishop of the poor priest and informed him that they were in custody of one of his priest. They requested him to cough out a whooping sum of money as ransom before they could release the priest. They added that failure to meet their demand on time, that they will kill the poor priest. In response, the bishop gently addressed them thus: “My dear sons, that person you are holding is a priest of God. I thank you for taking good care of him. As for ransom, his ransom has been already paid by Jesus Christ, so I cannot pay any other ransom for him.” When they advanced their threat that they will kill the priest if the bishop fails to comply, the bishop finally added: “My dear sons, that priest has died long ago with Christ during his ordination. So, whether he lives or dies, he belongs to Christ. Please do take good care of him.” Few days later the poor priest was miraculously released. Of course, had the bishop succumbed, the wave of kidnapping of his priest would have continued till the diocese goes bankrupt. Indeed, the life we live today belongs to Christ who through his death and resurrection has ransomed us. Hence, no better ransom can be paid for our redemption that could equate or be better than the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Risen Lord.
In the first reading of this Sunday, after the “Pentecostal Experience,” Peter continues to bear witness to the risen and glorified Christ, the power of his resurrection, the same power with which Christians have been transformed from the kingdom of death to the kingdom of life. He argued that since it was impossible for Christ to be held captive by the power of death, it is equally impossible for those (us) whom he has ransomed with his precious blood to remain captives to the powers of fear and death either. This therefore, calls for joy because David the Psalmist prophesied earlier before now concerning this new life purchased for us through Christ’ Paschal Mystery: “You have made known the way of life to me, you will fill me with gladness through your presence.” Yes, now we abide in the presence of the Risen Christ who ransomed us. For this reason, my dear friends, there is no more need to panic because: “Those who abide in the presence/shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1). Our aggressors and oppressors – poverty, sickness, pains, hardships, persecutions, phobias, sins and even death have lost their power and grip over us. It is important to note that in mentioning the prophecy of David here, Peter employed it to substantiate first that: “The promises of God are, yes and amen!” (2Cor 1: 20)Secondly, he used it to add credence to his witness to the risen Christ whom the prophets spoke about. The Jews having great respect for their prophets especially David, could not dispute the fact that what he prophesied will come true. We must therefore ask the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus and empowered the apostle Peter to teach us so that, as we witness, we can also rely on the power of the scriptures which is the word of God and another form of Christ’s divine presence with us. This was exactly the method the glorified Christ employed in order to illumine the minds of the scrupulously minded Emmaus-bound disciples in today’s gospel. In the pages of the scriptures (God’s own Word), we find truths about Christ which no man can dispute and which will certainly help us convince and strengthen the faith of those we minister to because, the Word of God, is Christ himself present with us (Jh 1: 1. 14).
In the second reading, Peter calls us to live a life that is ad rem to our new state of life made possible by Christ’s precious blood and victory over death. In order words, if we have God truly as our father, we must try to live impeccable lives, life of holiness because: “Those who call upon the name of the Lord must depart from iniquity,” a life characterized by witnessing to the risen Lord and of course, good works, a life always punctuated with the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit in action in us, and a life that shows that we are truly alive in, and with Christ. This is because the new life we now live and enjoy in Christ was made possible through the precious blood of the Lamb without defect.
Today’s gospel draws our attention to yet another very important aspect of our Christian life and liturgy – The Mass (liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Body and Blood of Christ). It is important to note the sequence of Christ’s action with these Emmaus-bound disciples because it clearly illustrates the core parts of the Mass. First, Christ having illumined their minds with the scripture (liturgy of the Word): “Then starting with Moses and going through the prophets, he explained to them the passages through the scriptures that were about himself.” After this, Christ went a step further to celebrate the liturgy of his body and blood (the Eucharist) with them: “While he was still with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them.” And something very important happened! What was it? “…Their eyes opened, and they recognized him…” This simply underscores the importance of Christ’s injunction: “Do this in memory of me.” Christ himself understood the quagmire that engulfed and challenged their new life, and that it could only be quelled by the celebration of these two important liturgies (Word and Eucharist). Indeed, he has ransomed and given us new life through his precious blood, and his entire Paschal Mystery. Yet, in order to sustain and nourish this new life purchased with the costliest and most precious of all prices in the world, he left us himself in these two important recipes of the Holy Mass (Word and Eucharist). Hence, the saying: “Liturgy is Life!” What this means is that if we forget these liturgies celebrated by Christ himself we forget our new life in him. Christ did this today to remind us that each time we celebrate these liturgies worthily, he opens our eyes in order to recognize his ever abiding and divine presence with us. Also, he reminds us that in the words of the scripture and through the breaking of bread in memory of him, he polishes and nourishes our life and makes it new every day. Therefore, each time we attend Mass, we gain new life afresh because we recognize Christ anew in our own life. This is because Christ at Mass offers himself again and again as a priceless and precious ransom for the renewal and newness of our own life. Let us therefore ask the Risen Christ who ransomed us and continues to remain with us through his Word, Body and Blood to open our eyes, and “show us the path of life,” Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
Peace be with you all!!