The Bloody Lintel

Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 19, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we begin a series of texts about the Passover. These readings are so richly symbolic, not only for our personal prayer, but also for our sacramental understanding. Today’s passage addresses the acquisition and sacrifice of the Passover lamb.

Scenes from Exodus. Full-page miniature, upper register: the tenth plague: the death of the first-born including Pharaoh’s son, lower register: the Israelites leaving Egypt. From the Haggadah for Passover (14thC.)

Maybe for you, as for me, this is one of first Bible stories you recall from childhood. I remember how the drama built as my teacher read this story – all these wide-eyed kindergarteners hanging on her every word.

God was done with Pharaoh who had already ignored nine – yes NINE – plagues! Now the Egyptians’ first-born would be taken from them in a heavenly massacre! It was terrible to imagine. But even worse to consider was how the innocent Israelites would be spared from the dreaded visitation!

Even as a little pre-schooler, I already knew that we sometimes get in situations that only God can get us out of.  What I have begun to learn in my maturity is that – rather than get us out of such circumstances –  God chooses to pass through these life experiences WITH us.

An image we might consider in our prayer today:  these lintels were marked in BLOOD. The visiting angel could have as easily read a charcoal mark on the door, or a colored slab of paint. But the deliverance was secured by blood.


When devastating loss, sorrow or confusion comes to our door, how does our faith deliver us to the Promise of joy and peace? 

It cannot be by some hastily obtained symbol or sign, or borrowed prayer. Our faith must already be rooted deep down in our veins, our arteries, our heart, our blood. That rooting shall not be moved, no matter the circumstance. That rooting ties us to the God of Life. That rooting allows us to discover God even in our chaos.

As we pray today, under the lintel post of our faith, let us be mindful that these magnificent passages prefigure the Holy Lamb of God, Jesus, who saves us from every kind of death. May we ask for the grace to deepen our Eucharistic and Paschal faith so that we may fully trust God in our own Passovers.

Music: Agnis Dei – Michael Hoppé

3 thoughts on “The Bloody Lintel

  1. Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – John 19:28-30. The Jews marked the lintels with blood using stalks of the hyssop plant, the same plant on which the sponge of sour wine was attached and offered to Jesus. The blood of the innocent lambs that were slaughtered on the original Passover night does prefigure the blood which poured out of our Lord and Savior for our redemption and deliverance. In his insightful book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Dr. Brant Pitre tells us that this sponge of sour wine took the place of the fourth Passover meal Cup (Hallel / Cup of Completion) which Jesus and the apostles didn’t partake of during the Last Supper. This fourth cup isn’t mentioned in any of the Gospels. So, the Last Supper was completed while Jesus was on the cross and right before he passed away for our deliverance after having tasted the sponge of sour wine. The third cup of wine (berekah/ Cup of Salvation) recorded in the Gospels is the cup of our Lord’s blood of the new and ever lasting covenant for the remission of sin. The following psalm among others was sung by Jesus and the apostles between the third and fourth cups.

    O Lord, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the child of your handmaid.
    You have loosed my bonds.
    I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
    and call on the name of the Lord.
    Hallel Psalm 116, 16-17

    Liked by 1 person

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