Blood and Sacrifice

We have a violence problem. As a nation. As a religion. Intertwined. How might our theology of blood sacrifice condone violence? Perhaps our image of God has become twisted by religious practices that glorify sacrifice and bloodshed: singing that blood washes away sin, drinking blood at communion, celebrating crucifixion as a transaction that buys life.

“But that is what the Bible says,” we protest. “Yes,” Isaiah says, “you are following Scripture exactly, but God isn’t pleased. Despite your faithful religious practice, you aren’t becoming righteous. Blood has never washed away sin, and worship is worthless when we have blood on our hands.

I don’t want the blood of bulls….
Your hands are stained with blood.
Wash! Be clean!  Isaiah 1: 11, 15-16 (CEB)

Like religious people throughout time, we misinterpret what God wants or needs. What was the point of blood sacrifice? (Sunday’s teaching explores this.) To buy forgiveness? To feed a hungry god? Psalm 50 says the forest animals, the cattle, the birds and field insects- wondrously alive- all belong to the God who doesn’t need our meat or blood.

Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving! Fulfill the promises you made to the Most High! Cry out to me whenever you are in trouble; I will deliver you, then you will honor me.”  Ps 50:14-15(CEB)

So whom does our violence serve? What is the name of the god to whom we sacrifice our children? Perhaps it’s name is “Freedom”. The Second Amendment has become our Moloch. Hungry for blood. Other nations have ceased to worship guns, choosing life over death. To save our children, we must choose a different god. Turn away from violence.

We are in trouble. We need deliverance. Show us a way back to true worship and honor. Let us put away our false gods and listen:

Remove your ugly deeds from my sight. Put an end to such evil; learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; Is. 1:16-17 (CEB)

Defend the children. Plead for the parents. Our beliefs influence our actions. The metaphors we use to approach mysteries matter. What do we believe about our God? The Bible doesn’t just say one thing. Jesus chose to emphasize some scriptures over others. He quotes Isaiah to proclaim why he was sent: good news to the poor, release to prisoners, sight to the blind, liberation for the oppressed, to proclaim the Lord’s favor. (Lk 4:18-19; Is.61:1-2)

I don’t have the answers. But what we’re doing isn’t working. Our forms of belief and practice are not resulting in righteousness. We need our crimson sins to become clean as wool. Deliver us Lord, so that we may honor you.


Looking for bits of Biblical focus throughout the day? Follow Renée on Twitter for brief reflections on the daily Catholic lectionary scripture passages. @AntrosioRenee

Bulletin: 2/25
Order of Worship: 2/25
Service: Metaphor & Mystery in Gal. 4

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