Wow, after the first reading it makes you wonder what kind of world did those people live in. Sprinkling blood on the altar and then sprinkling blood on themselves, this is not a normal topic for discussion today. All the more why we need to talk about it today. We need to understand the context of what was happening.
To begin with, God had made covenants with Adam and Eve, then Abraham, and Noah. In each case, we broke the covenant. Now God wants to make a covenant with His chosen people. Not a contract but a covenant. A contract is a written agreement between two people where it is written that I do this service for you and in turn you pay me a fee for doing the service. A covenant means much more. Simply, it means I offer you my life in turn you offer me your life.
The early Hebrew people believed that life was contained in the blood. When a sacrifice of an animal was made, the blood would be used to seal the covenant. The blood sprinkled on the altar was representative of the life of God. The blood sprinkled on the people was representative of the people offering their lives to God. This establishment of the covenant between God and His people is the covenant that Jesus came to fulfill. This covenant prefigures the covenant that Jesus fulfills. Even the people God used for this original covenant are symbols of the fulfillment by Jesus. Jesus is considered the new Moses. Peter, James and John are the priestly figures of Aaron and his two sons. The twelve sons of Jacob are the twelve apostles. And even the seventy disciples Jesus sent out two by two are the seventy elders that received the spirit.
What is important to understand is that our God is not a destructive God desiring the killing of animals or people. God is a God of life. The first covenant between God and His people did have a sacrifice but it is a sacrifice that offered life, the life of God for His people. Jesus comes to fulfill the covenant, not to make a new covenant. It requires that He be sacrificed, not because of His death, but that through His death life is given. The fulfillment of the covenant is that we be given eternal life that was once lost by Adam and Eve. God is a God of life.
We should also consider how Jesus prepared His disciples for the Last Supper. Knowing that He would turn bread into His Body and wine into His Blood, He would need to teach them. There are four examples of Jesus preparing His disciples.
The first, at the wedding feast in Cana. Even though His hour had not come, through the prompting of His mother, Mary, Jesus changes water into wine. Perhaps this to help the disciples understand when He changes wine into His Blood.
The second example is the Miracle of the Feeding of Five Thousand. An example of the abundance of God and still have food left over. There is enough for all.
The third example, The Last Supper. His disciples are prepared for the fulfillment of the covenant. Jesus offers Himself as the sacrifice but leaves instructions for His disciples to continue, to do this in remembrance of me.
And the fourth example is more for us. It is that first Eucharistic celebration when Jesus consecrates bread and wine for the Two Men on the Road to Emmaus. At the moment of consecration Jesus disappears from their sight. This is for our benefit. This moment is for us today, to reflect and meditate upon every time we attend Mass. This is why the Church now celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus. A reminder of the life-giving covenant God has given us through the life of His Son. We in turn now offer our lives to live in Him.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen