Liturgy of the Hours Homily in the Office of Readings:
From the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop
If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish,” commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors.” If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.
If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy Eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.
“There flowed from his side water and blood.” Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit,” and from the holy Eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.
Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.
From Matins in the Traditional Breviary:
From the Treatise of St Augustin, Bishop
Thou hast hidden me from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity. Now let us fix our eyes upon our Head. Many martyrs have. suffered such things as He suffered, but God’s hiding of His suffering servants is not so well seen in the Martyrs, as it is in the Captain of the Martyrs. And it is in Him that we best see how it fared with them. He was hidden from the secret counsel of the wicked; hidden by God, being Himself God; hidden, as touching the Manhood, by God the Son, and the very Manhood, Which is taken into God the Son; because He is the Son of man, and He is the Son of; God Son of God, as being in the form of God; Son of man, as having taken upon Him the form of a servant, Whose life no man taketh from Him, but Who layeth it down of Himself. He hath power to lay it down, and He hath power to take it again. What then was all that they which hated Him could do? They could kill the Body, but they were not able to kill the Soul. Consider this very earnestly. It had been a small thing for the Lord to preach to the Martyrs by His word, if He had not also nerved them by His example.
We know what secret counsel was that of the wicked Jews, and what insurrection was that of the workers of iniquity. Of what iniquity were they the workers? The murder of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many good works, saith He, have I showed you for which of those works go ye about to kill Me? He had borne with all their weaknesses : He had healed all their diseases : He had preached unto them the kingdom of heaven : He had discovered to them their iniquities, that they might rather hate them, than the Physician That came to cure them. And now at last, without gratitude for all the tenderness of His healing love, like men raging in an high delirium, throwing themselves madly on the Physician, Who had come to cure them, they took counsel together how they might kill Him, as if to see if He were a Man and could die, or Something more than a man, and That would not let Himself die. In the Wisdom of Solomon we recognize their words, (ii. 18, 19, 20,) Let us condemn Him with a shameful death Let us examine Him; for, by His own saying, He shall be respected. If He be the Son of God, let Him help Him.
They what heir tongue like a sword. The Jews cannot say : We did not murder Christ albeit they gave Him over to Pilate His judge, that they themselves might seem free of His death. For when! Pilate said unto them, Take ye Him: and kill Him, they answered, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. They could throw the’ blame of their sin upon a human judge : but did they deceive God, the Great Judge? In that which Pilate did, he was their accomplice, but in comparison with them, he had far the lesser sin. Pilate strove as far as he could, to deliver Him out of their hands; for the which reason also he scourged Him, and brought Him forth to them He scourged not the Lord for cruelty’s sake, but in the hope that; he might so slake their wild thirst for blood: that, perchance, even they might be touched with compassion, and cease to lust for His death, when they saw What He was after the flagellation. Even this effort he made.! But when Pilate saw that he could not prevail, but that rather a tumult was made, ye know how that he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this Just Person. And yet he delivered Him to be crucified! But if he were guilty who did it against his will, were they innocent; who goaded him on to it? No. Pilate gave sentence against Him. and commanded Him to be crucified. But ye, O ye Jews, ye also are His murderers! Wherewith? With your tongue, whetted like a sword. And when? But when ye cried, Crucify Him! Crucify Him!