VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Ever since murder marked the very first human family, people have continued to kill one another, but God's answer to this is the blood of his Son, Benedict XVI says.
As he addressed crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square today to pray the midday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the phenomenon of brother raising his hand against brother. The occasion for this reflection is the tradition of using the first Sunday of July for devotion to the Precious Blood of Christ.
The Holy Father noted how his predecessor Blessed John XXIII confirmed this tradition with a 1960 apostolic letter.
"The theme of blood linked to that of the Paschal Lamb is of primary importance in sacred Scripture," Ben edict XVI explained. "In the Old Testament the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established the covenant between God and the people, as one reads in the Book of Exodus. [...]
"Jesus explicitly repeats this formula at the Last Supper. [...] And, from the scourging, to the piercing of his side after his death on the cross, Christ has really shed all of his blood as the true Lamb immolated for universal redemption."
The shedding of blood is also a theme that runs throughout history, the Pope continued.
The blood of Abel, slain by his brother, cried out to God from the earth. "And, unfortunately, today as yesterday, this cry does not cease, since human blood continues to run because of violence, injustice and hatred," he lamented. "When will men learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will men understand that we are all brothers?"
However, the Holy Father recalled, "To the cry of the blood that goes up from many parts of the earth, God answers with the blood of his Son, who gave his life for us. Christ did not answer evil with evil, but with good, with his infinite love. The blood of Christ is the pledge of the faithful love of God for humanity."
This truth can be a comfort for all people, regardless of their personal situations, the Pontiff contended.
"Looking upon the wounds of the Crucified, every man, even in conditions of extreme moral misery, can say: God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he gave his life for me -- and in this way rediscover hope," the Bishop of Rome affirmed.
And he concluded with a prayer to Christ's mother: "May the Virgin Mary, who beneath the cross, together with the apostle John, witnessed the testament of Jesus' blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable riches of this grace, and to feel profound and perennial gratitude for it."