Let his blood be upon us and upon our children

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His blood be upon us from Carrots for Michaelmas

On Palm Sunday, I always shudder to say the responses in the Gospel reading. If you’ve never been to a Catholic Mass on Palm Sunday, the Passion in the 26th and 27th chapters of Matthew is read aloud and the congregation reads the part of the crowd calling for Jesus’ crucifixion. I shudder because by adding my voice to the shout “Crucify him!” I have to face the reality of my own sin. My betrayal and denial of God in my heart each day. That “crucify him!” is my soul’s cry when I choose my sin over God.

Non serviam. I will not serve, I chime in with Lucifer. And my sinful heart is what drives the nails into my Lord’s palms. It’s not that “they” wanted him dead 2,000 years ago that makes me shudder, it’s that I would have shouted the same words had I been there. And even worse, I still shout them when I deny Our Lord through my sin.

Saying those horrible words on Palm Sunday reminds me of all this and I can’t do it without getting tears in my eyes.

But after the first shout for his execution, the passage gets even more horrible:

They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he [Pilate] said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all, 
but that a riot was breaking out instead, 
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply, 
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

His blood be upon us and upon our children.

In other words, kill him. Let the blood guilt be on us and our families. We will be responsible for the crime and will carry the weight of the sin from generation to generation.

His blood be upon us and upon our children.

And here’s where I broke down in Mass today. His blood be upon us and upon our children.

It’s so gruesome, violent, horrible. The rage of humanity against its only Hope to be saved from itself. Condemning itself with the most horrific crime imaginable: the murder of God.

But God isn’t like us. He beautifies the ugly. He redeems the lost. He loves the unlovable.

He heard our shouts for his blood and he answered our cries–just not the way we meant them. We wanted his blood and so he gave it to us in the most gruesome and beautiful act of history. 

What we meant for evil, he used to redeem us. Of his own will, he let his blood be spilt by our sin and then he took his blood and in his violent mercy poured it out and washed us clean with it. God incarnate took humanity’s selfish, twisted hate, and redeemed it with his love. Our cries for death are transformed into the way of life eternal.

His blood be upon us and upon our children.

The very same people shouting then and shouting now against God’s grace, are the souls He freely and lovingly spilled his blood for. And by his grace, we can speak those words, not with hatred and spite, with with awe and praise. Let his violent mercy spill over us. His very blood, offered on the Cross for us, and held out for us each day in the Blessed Sacrament. 

This is my blood, shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Thanks be to God.

May the unimaginable mercy of Jesus wash over you this week as you follow him to the Cross and to Resurrection.

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  1. Daphne says

    This is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! This post is a wonderful reminder of our Lord’s great sacrifice. Thank yo u Haley for writing this, it stirred my soul!

    Warm Regards,

  2. says

    Exactly this. Last week I already dreaded the “Crucify him!” line. It is easily my least favorite part of any Mass of all the year. However, I had completely forgotten about the “His blood” line until yesterday morning. It’s chilling, isn’t it?

    It is easy to forget or gloss over or minimize Christ’s actions. Maybe we’ve said the same line over and over again: “Jesus was conceived, born, crucified for us. Isn’t that nice?” I should be thankful for the cringe-worthy replies on Palm Sunday: they remind me that faith isn’t comfortable and that comfort isn’t what matters.

    Thank you for pointing out that, even in the face of sorrow and suffering, beauty radiates. Have a blessed Holy Week!

  3. says

    Beautiful post. I was in awe yesterday at mass. It was/is such a powerful message to listen to.

    As I am just coming back home to the faith I can see how many times that I crucified such a beautiful soul with my sins. I was shaken yesterday.

    This is such a beautiful week in our faith.

    Thank you for writing this amazing post.

    • Haley says

      Yes! I feel like I’m entering in this year (last year, all my brain cells and energy were just focused on making it through the last month of pregnancy.)

  4. says

    For the first time this had me in tears yesterday! I kept thinking about how we demand so much (through pride) and, though controlling, thankless, and vengeful in so many ways, God makes complete and exhaustible good from our demands. How much good did we receive even though what we demanded was so flawed?!

    • Haley says

      “God makes complete and exhaustible good from our demands. How much good did we receive even though what we demanded was so flawed?!”

      Yes. Exactly that.

  5. says

    Hauntingly beautiful, Haley. It’s so sobering and humbling to know our sinfulness and its direct connection to our suffering Christ. When I hear our little almost 4 year old singing the songs for the Stations of the Cross, I think, yup, even the littlest among us need this sanctification.

  6. says

    Absolutely beautiful reflection. This is my first Palm Sunday Mass, and I thought the same things, and shuddered, too. Thank you for writing this so eloquently. This is something I will likely come back to on my next Palm Sunday.

    • says

      Oh, I should add– I was really feeling the pain of my own sins on the Cross on Sunday, as on Friday I had a meeting with my priest that was more or less a confession, except I am unbaptized and could not recieve sacramental absolution. Safe to say I cried my eyes out the whole meeing- and that exact feeling of shame came right back to me yesterday at Mass.

  7. says

    Haley, I was thinking the same thing about the blood! On this side of the Cross, we may be washed in the blood of the Lamb and have our sins forgiven. The blood is on us all regardless: will we chose it to condemn us or to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?
    Reminds me of the hymn “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! O, precious is the flow that made me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

    • Haley says

      “The blood is on us all regardless: will we chose it to condemn us or to cleanse us from all unrighteousness?”


  8. says

    I remember as a child not saying those words. I just couldn’t do it. It made me too sad. Now I do, and I remember just what you said, that everytime I choose sin, I am essentially crying “Crucify him!” Our parish didn’t invite the congregation to read those parts this year and I so wish they had because it’s so humbling and a stark reminder of our sin and our involvement in His death as we journey through this Holy Week.
    So well said: thank you!

    • Haley says

      That’s too bad the congregation didn’t get to do part of the reading! It’s really something to say it out loud, isn’t it?

  9. says

    Oh, I love this and will be sharing it! This was my first Palm Sunday with a baby, and I’m still adjusting to not being entirely able to focus on the Mass when he’s fussy, but even without kids I know that in the past, as much as I love Holy Week, it’s easy to just sort of think “same old, same old,” when the Palm Sunday Gospel rolls around. This is exactly the spark I needed, and I’ll be meditating on it all week, I think!

    • Haley says

      It is definitely a hard transition getting used to having kids to wrangle in Mass. I think at this point my brain is able to have multiple things going at once in a way I didn’t with our first baby…taking three now isn’t as bad as taking one then, but I think it’s mostly because we’re broken in now 😉

  10. says

    Oh gracious. This is so eloquently said and exactly what I was thinking yesterday. When I read that line aloud: “Let His Blood be upon us and upon our children,” I started to wonder how anyone could do that to his children. And then I realized (as I probably do every year), that I am guilty.

    So powerful, and dreadful.

    • Haley says

      I think what is most powerful to me about that reading is that I think of myself as being “on Jesus’ team” or something and then I realize…..oh….actually I’m the “them” that crucifies him.

  11. says

    Oh, yeah. This part kills me every year. I don’t want to say it, but I make myself. This is why I far prefer the crucifix to a plain cross. A crucifix is a reality: somebody (the Greatest Somebody to ever live) was tortured and killed, and I am culpable. A cross is merely a symbol. A powerful one, yes, but it doesn’t contain the *person* of Jesus, so it’s easier to discount.

    Beautiful reflection, Haley.

  12. Emily B says

    I love this, and I too had a hard time saying the lines Sunday… Part of me would like to think I would have spoken against him, but I know in my heart I would have been the same way. So grateful our God is much larger and gracious than I deserve!!

  13. says

    Oh, oh what a God we have! His love for us… I just can’t even…

    I cry at that part, and I cry when Jesus looks up to God and says, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?” because, man. I can just feel the despair, the hopelessness, the dread. And Christ did it for ME! For US! I can’t understand that. I don’t know that I will ever be able to understand that. It’s too beautiful, too divine, and I’m too human.

    Great post!

  14. Kristin says

    This literally gave me chills as I was reading it! I’ve heard before that sin is a twisting of something that God had created to be good. This is such a beautiful observation of God untwisting something evil to restore it to his good and perfect will. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Rebecca says

    This is the most beautiful post I’ve read this Lent/Easter and one of your best! I too was cringing and crying inside at reading the passage of the crowd accepting blood guilt. You captured what I couldn’t, so thank you. “Violent mercy” is a beautiful phrase!

  16. Elizabeth says

    When I read that line out of context, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children,” I jump to the image from Exodus of the blood of the lamb protecting the Israelites during the first Passover; the beautiful prefigurement of the Lamb of God protecting us from everlasting death. That line becomes a plea, in a sense, begging to be washed in His blood so that we may be spared from the Angel of Death.

    Thanks for a beautiful reflection.

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