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The Bonds of Blood

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 29, 2024

Natural human love finds its pinnacle expression in marriage. A child is the outward sign of love—a bond of human blood. Marriage is the foundation of families, tribes, and nations. The infusion of God’s grace purifies and uplifts marriage and all human love. The infusion is real, not symbolic.

God commands our first parents: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28) Husbands and wives fill and subdue the earth, beginning with the love of the marital embrace. Jesus refines our understanding of marriage: “He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mt. 9:4-6)

Marriage is the communion of a man and woman with an exclusive and unbreakable bond of fidelity, open to children. The union of man and wife and their love is not abstract. An unborn baby shares the blood of its mother and the DNA of both mom and dad. A baby becomes the incarnation of their love. Families expand and form tribes, sharing the bonds of blood. Tribal groupings form nations. The bonds of blood hold nations together. But without the rule of law and God’s grace, the same bonds may tear nations apart.

Countries consist of many tribes and ethnic backgrounds. The intellectual infusion of shared tribal values and national traits enhances the bonds of blood. National constitutions are compacts of cooperation and goodwill. Every nation needs law enforcement and may need to wage a just war to protect—and attain—a basic level of peace. Restoring harmony recognizes the natural and good bonds of blood beginning with the family. A country that neglects the rule of just laws risks various forms of tribalism and feuds—“the law of the jungle.”

The bonds of blood also form the foundation of patriotism. Although it’s frequently said a soldier risks his life for his buddies, not his nation, we should not push that point too far. A soldier also risks his life because he loves his country as a patriot and honors the Fourth Commandment. Despite the flaws in families, tribes, and nations, the soldier shares the same blood as his countrymen. We may trace the modern breakdown in patriotism to the rejection of legitimate family and tribal bonds in favor of the pursuit of money, power, and ideologies. A patriot, for example, usually does not volunteer to risk his life for powerful globalist elites. Even conservative politicians endanger the nation when they neglect “cultural issues.”

God formed His Chosen People on the foundation of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Jesus replaced the Twelve Tribes—held together by the bonds of blood—with the Twelve Apostles. The Catholic faith emerged from the tribal Jewish religion with a universal tribe, the single “Tribe of Jesus.” His universal priesthood (according to the order of Melchizedek) replaces the tribal priesthood. Hence, his Church is catholic (universal). But even the universal Church maintains the bond of blood.

Through Mary’s “yes” to the Angel, the Word is made flesh and dwells among us. As an unborn baby in her womb, Mary nourished Jesus with her blood, and He became a physical member of her family and the House of David. But the Blessed Virgin Mary is also the Mother of God, the mother of Jesus—true God and true man—because the Holy Spirit overshadows her. Mary is, at once, the mother of Jesus and, in His divinity, His spouse “full of grace.” The Word becomes a member of the tribe of Mary but remains our Creator. The Incarnation of Jesus renews the creation of all tribes because God and man are reconciled in Him and He sheds His blood for us for our salvation.

As with every family and tribe, we need the bond of blood to claim and retain our membership in the “tribe” of Jesus. Just as children conceived in love share the blood of their parents, God conceives us in His Church in Baptism, and we share in His body and blood, humanity and divinity, in the Eucharist. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:53-54)

The Precious Blood of Jesus—our reception of His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the sacrificial Eucharist—is the remedy for every human dysfunction and failure, including the abuses of tribalism and racism. Although we may find a DNA ancestry search amusing, as members of the Tribe of Jesus, it is never distressing because we share in His saving blood. We are His blood brothers.

We have tribal wars throughout the world. We risk the disintegration of the fabric of free societies founded on the rule of law. The divisions, hatreds, and alienations paradoxically neglect and exaggerate the legitimate bonds of blood. The bond of blood that transcends all marriages, families, tribes, and nations is the unifying Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist. His Precious Blood is not a symbol. The Real Presence unifies us as brothers and sisters within His Mystical Body, the Church. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands….” (1 Jn. 1)

The Eucharist is the Bond of Blood that unifies every nation and heals every soul. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5)

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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