The lure of blood

What makes a series of novels, The Twilight Saga, based on the love of a teenage girl for a 104-year-old vampire, sell more than 120 million copies all over the globe? Is it because of its obsession with blood? Blood shapes human history and fuels human passions; it has been a fascinating and powerful symbol since the early Christian writings and beyond.

This is he who comes by water and blood (1 Jn 5.6)

Attempts to portray Jesus as a gentle, unjudging, liberal Jew will always fall short. The Letter to the Hebrews, written probably around thirty years after the death of Jesus, is in one way the bloodiest of all early Christian writings. The word blood occurs twenty times. It depicts Jesus as the culmination of the Jewish priesthood and all the bloody sacrifices that marked Jewish faith. Now he is the priest, the victim and the new temple, replacing the former temple and the sacrifices that took place in it. He has taken humankind with all its violence into the presence of God. There his scarred body proclaims that God no longer wants human blood spilt in his name. Jesus’ blood poured out on the cross is humanity’s ultimate peace-offering.

The meaning of blood

Blood is deep red because it carries iron in the form of haemoglobin. This extraordinary protein delivers the oxygen that provides us with energy and passion; it’s the bearer of life, carrying seventy times the amount of oxygen as a similar quantity of water.

When Christ said, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood, (Lk 22.20) he was presenting his blood, the current of his life and energy, to flow through and rewrite human history till it comes to an end. This is why the symbol of blood is so central and critical in the Catholic Eucharistic that is the Mass.


Father Neil Vaney

Next steps

This writing is based on the content of ‘What Catholics Believe’, Booklet 6, ‘The Mass’ referencing page 5. Should you like to read more just click either of the links below to download ‘Booklet 6’ or the complete set of ‘What Catholics Believe’.