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
BOTH OF THESE ARE INCORRECT
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!
JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD
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.”
This chapter is just screaming the divine laws that the Sanhedrin broke, pushing forth false witnesses in order to convict and sentence and innocent and righteous man, Jesus Christ, to death.
Sabbath Year for Land- Just like the duration of slavery, the toil of the land follows the liturgical pattern of Creation- six years of labor, one year to rest and restore.
God promises his chosen people that an angel will guide them to the place he prepared them, just as Christ promised his Church that the Holy Spirit will guide them to all truth, while he goes to prepare a place for us all.
The censer full of coals mingled with incense covering the mercy seat recalls a detail about the first trumpet in Revelation, when a censer is filled with coals, and incense mingled with the prayers of the saints rose before God, before the censer is hurled down to earth.
Upon the scape goat is placed all the sins of Israel, just like how Christ has all our sins paced upon him on the Cross.