WHY THEN IS THY APPAREL RED?
There are some, perhaps, who are more repelled than attracted by the very name and nature of the devotion to the Precious Blood. The idea of blood easily suggests to them that some cruelty has been committed and that consequently some life is ebbing out. The life of the flesh is in the blood and to see blood flow fills us instinctively with horror. When Jesus promised to give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink, we know that many therefore of his disciples hearing it, said:
This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?
It is the spirit that quickeneth. It is true, the devotion to the Precious Blood does remind us that pain was inflicted and that a life was sacrificed; but we must not forget also that it was divine Blood that was shed and that it was the Man-God Who suffered and laid down His life for us. Let us confess, too, with deep compunction, we sinners have been the cause of the blood-shedding and death. Is this not the underlying reason why this devotion contains this element of wholesome fear?
It was to wash away our sins that this adorable Blood was spilt, and in answer to the words of the prophet, Why then is thy apparel red?
We may reply with the beloved Apostle, because He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. St. Bernard calls the Blood of the Passion the roses of divine love.
The devotion to the Precious Blood brings us face to face with two fundamental doctrines of our holy religion: fallen man in all his misery, shut out from Paradise and Heaven, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears; and Jesus, the Son of the living God, restoring the child of perdition to the dignity of a child of God and heir of heaven. An angel with a flaming sword guards the entrance of Paradise lost; but Jesus in the crimson garment of His Blood, all aflame with love, reopens the gate of Heaven for us. Jesus Christ Himself showing us His five open wounds invites us to the fountains of salvation in the words:
Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you, for My Blood is drink indeed.
The Church, the bride of the Lamb that was slain, teaches us in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and by her prayers what treasures, what power, the faithful will find in the divine and vivifying Blood of Christ. The chalice of benediction, which we bless, is it not the communication of the blood of Christ? Do we fully realize that we have the Blood of the God-Man on our altars every morning at Mass? Come then, ye sinners all, do not abandon hope nor lose courage; you are come to Jesus, the mediator of the New Testament, and to the sprinkling of blood which speaketh better than that of Abel. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin Come, ye just and innocent all, and behold Jesus clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood, that your hearts might become more and more inflamed with the fire of love that is burning in every drop of the Blood dripping from the Cross. Come, ye fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, come, ye sick and poor and wretched, and draw new life and superabundant grace from the flowing fountains of your Saviour. Why then is Thy apparel red? Ah, my bleeding Love, I understand, because Thou art a Spouse of Blood and dost so love us unto death. Every pore of Thy sacred body must become an outlet for Thy love and every drop of Thy Blood must become a minister of Thy Sacred Heart to convey this love to all the world. Every morning during Mass we find the dew of Thy love in the chalice, which reminds us that Thou art with us in Thy crimson robe of love and will remain with us until the end of the world.