Day 41: The Day of Atonement

Exodus 23:1-9 These verses primarily apply to the Eighth Commandment, which forbids lying and false testimony. Verse 7 includes a prohibition against slaying the innocent, who implicitly are wrongly convicted. (CCC 2261, 2475-2487)

Ch 23:10-19 The Sabbath provides a respite from daily work and an opportunity to assist the poor, who receive no respite from their poverty. An extension of the Sabbath is the “Sabbath of years,” which allows the poor to eat of the fruit of the landowners’ fallow land every seventh year. Here are issued some of the first of the dietary laws that would become part of Israel’s tradition. (CCC 345-348, 2161-2175, 2189-2190)

Ch 23:20-33 The Lord’s objection to associating with the original residents of the newly acquired Promised Land was on account of their worship of false idols, something the Israelites were enjoined to avoid. (CCC 2110-2114, 2132, 2567, 2779)

STEWARDSHIP REQUIRES A RECOGNITION THAT THE RESOURCES of the earth, in keeping with God’s instructions at creation, are meant for EVERYONE. Therefore, everyone has a right to private property, especially those most in need. Since the goods of this world are meant for every person’s benefit for all times, the goods of this world need to be cared for and used responsibly. Those who “have” more than the basic essentials for a dignified human existence are obliged to help those who “have not”; this obligation exists at both the personal and international level. The Church maintains a preferential love for the poor and encourages works of mercy to alleviate human misery. These examples are derived from the Church’s principle of the “universal destination of goods.”

Leviticus 16:1-34 This chapter describes the rituals for the Day of Atonement (in Hebrew, Yom Kippur). (CCC 578)

Ch 16:2 A veil in the tabernacle separated the holy, inner room, from the rest of the sanctuary; the Ark of the Covenant was reserved there. On top of the Ark was the MERCY SEAT, which represented the presence of God. Only the high priest could enter this inner room once a year to offer blood sacrifices and prayers for the forgiveness of his sins and the sins of the Jewish people, and when the Temple was finally built, the inner sanctuary was called the HOLY OF HOLIES. (CCC 433)

Ch 16:15-16 Atonement for sins was obtained by the high priest through the sprinkling of blood upon and around the mercy seat. This repeated sacrifice of the Old Covenant is a type (TYPOLOGY!!) of the ONE SACRIFICE of the New Covenant in which Christ himself reconciled the world to the Father through his own bloody Sacrifice on the Cross. (CCC 613)

Psalm 77 The psalm begins with sentiments of anguish, but gradually this pain gives way to hope and peace. In the moment of pain, grief, or oppression, it may seem that God is distant and has even abandoned us. Through reflection on the history of the Chosen People, it is clear that God allows suffering for the sake of repentance and purification. In the end, God reveals himself as a loving Father who protects and strengthens us. It is my grief: In the early Greek and Vulgate translations of the Old Testament, this phrase is translated, “Now have I begun” (in Latin, Nunc coepi), which alters the sense of the verse to indicate that the psalmist was prepared to trust the Lord once again. (CCC 1221)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

  • Fun fact: Ex 23:19 says “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

    • This command may originate from a taboo that forbade killing the young that were still nursing from the mother, or that forbade the mixing of life and death: the slaughtered young goat with the milk that previously nourished its life. The Jewish dietary custom of keeping meat and dairy products separate (keeping Kosher) is based on this command (*NABRE 3rd ed Catholic Study Bible)

  • There is so much beauty in God’s Word

  • Not only are the people of Israel commanded to be JUST

  • They are commanded to be JUST and FAIR in dealing with people who are POOR

  • We may have temptations to do INJUSTICE to those who are poor because they are helpless and can’t fight back

  • The other temptation is to FORSAKE JUSTICE for the sake of the poor because they are helpless and can’t fight back


  • To do INJUSTICE to the poor is CONDEMNED

  • TO FORSAKE JUSTICE for the sake of the poor is CONDEMNED

  • So basically, It is WRONG to do bad things TO THE POOR

  • It is also WRONG to do bad things FOR THE POOR as a type of VENGEANCE

  • This is an incredible, beautiful balance

  • The people of Israel are getting this Law for the first time from God

  • This is a new law that they have never experienced before

  • God is a God of justice so in that case He must have a preferential option for the poor

  • There is something called “Preferential Option for the Poor” that we as Catholics do have

  • But we do not do injustice for the sake of the poor

  • Right as the people of Israel are being set free from their poverty, God is telling them that He knows the hardness of their hearts and the softness of their hearts

  • Hard hearts can lead to the Israelites to want to get away with whatever they can against the poor

  • Soft hearts can lead to the Israelites to do EVIL for the sake of those who are OPPRESSED (Poor)

  • This balance is incredibly wise

  • It’s almost as if God Himself knows human nature ;)

  • We also see the first hint of the three major feasts of worshipping God

  • Exodus 14: Festival of Passover (For Catholics this is TRIDUUM aka Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and EASTER)

  • Exodus 16: Festival of Pentecost (50 days after Passover, aka Feast of the Harvest) also, for Catholics, Pentecost is 50 days after EASTER

  • Exodus 34: Festival of Tabernacles (Catholics are least familiar with this one)

  • These are the 3 times that ALL JEWISH MALES were required to go up to Jerusalem to worship God in the way that we hear described in the Book of Leviticus

  • Pretty soon, we will get to Leviticus 23 and hear the details of these 3 festivals.

  • In Leviticus 16 we hear about the DAY OF ATONEMENT aka Yom Kippur (which happens at the end of September)

  • This feast is for remembering past sins and making amends

  • This is the ONLY DAY OF FASTING that is decreed in the Bible

  • The High Priest (Aaron in this time) would take the goat, known as the Scapegoat

  • He would lay his hands over the head of the goat and declare the sins of the people of Israel

  • Someone would then be designated to lead the goat into the wilderness where it would die

  • This symbolized carrying away the sins of the people

  • So what is Azazel?

  • The answer is a mystery

  • There are some EXTRA BIBLICAL writings that describe Azazel as a demon, perhaps as a leader of fallen angels

  • Is Azazel the same as Lucifer?

  • We are not sure

  • We have theories, but we don’t know the ACTUAL answer

  • There is no DOGMATIC answer to this question

  • The scapegoat carries the sins of the people and this is very important

  • In these books we are reading we notice a “gap” between us and the Israelites

  • We think that is how THEY LIVED back then

  • We think that is how they WORSHIPPED back then

  • We think that is how they were IN RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD back then

  • And we tend to think that we don’t have anything like that anymore

  • BUT WE DO!

  • All of this is a TYPOLOGY of the sacrifice of the MASS!


  • What is the priest doing at mass when he offers up the Eucharist?

  • He is offering up the great sacrifice of THE LAMB OF GOD to the GLORY OF THE FATHER ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE

  • As we continue to journey through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy we need to understand something

  • These are the CRITICAL BOOKS

  • Even if Fr Mike does not make the connection on a daily basis, STRIVE TO MAKE THE CONNECTION FOR YOURSELF between what the people of Israel were commanded to do BACK THEN and what you and I as CATHOLIC CHRISTIANS are COMMANDED TO DO RIGHT NOW

  • It is the preparation of God’s people to worship Him as He has asked to be worshipped

  • This is what we are doing every single day in MASS ALL OVER THE WORLD

  • The worship of God through the bloodless sacrifice of the Lamb of God happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

  • We see it through a veil of mystery

  • Every time the stories of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy seem strange and foreign, take a moment and see if you notice the TYPOLOGY or FORESHADOWING of what you and I do in the Catholic Church TODAY

  • Whether that is CONFESSION, where our sins are placed on the Lord God Himself

  • Whether it comes to THE MASS where we offer up The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world

  • All of this is a preparation for our hearts

  • These 4 books are not merely ancient

  • They are books where God revealed His heart, and prepared our ancestors for the day itself when God would become ONE OF US (Jesus) and offer Himself for the sake of the ENTIRE WORLD and for the glory of The Father

  • Keep praying for each other

  • This journey is only one dimensional if we stay away from prayer and the sacraments

  • This journey is dull and colorless without prayer and the sacraments

  • There are some of us who are not “getting” Leviticus…...SO PRAY and ask God to help you understand

  • There are some of us who are “struggling to understand” Leviticus…….SO PRAY and ask for God’s help to take away your struggle and help you understand

Prayer by Fr Mike: “Heavenly Father, you are good and you do lead us. We thank you for your Word, we thank you for calling us your own. Thank you for making us your own. Thank you for giving yourself to us that we can not only know who you are, infinite in your might and infinite in your goodness and in your love. But also, so that we can know who we are, so that we can also know not only your rule, but can also be in a deep relationship with you. So today we call upon the name of your son, Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God. In His name, Father in Heaven, we thank you. In the name of Jesus Christ we praise you. In the name of Jesus Christ we ask you to continue to be with us now and always. Amen.”