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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Todal Thanks

Last week we Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, but as Catholics Thanksgiving goes much deeper. What does the Bible say about Thanksgiving.

In the Old Testament we see that the Israelites had a special way to give God thanks and that was through sacrifice.

Now the Israelites had what seems to be tons of different sacrifices for one reason or another.
For example there were sin sacrifices, purity sacrifices, sacrifices for different times of year and so on.

But what we are interested in here is the thank offering, or on Hebrew - the Todah.
A thank offering entailed, according to Leviticus 7, the person offering this sacrifice would bring bread and an animal for the sacrifice. Both portions of the bread and the animal would be burnt up. The remainder would be consumed by both the priest and the offerer.
So both the priest and the offerer would eat bread and flesh during this todah, thanksgiving sacrifice.

The todah, thank offering would be given in gratitude for good things received. A great example of this is in Psalm 107 - (parts quoted)
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever!
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men!
9 For he satisfies him who is thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress;
20 he sent forth his word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.
21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to the sons of men!
22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

This thank offering is related to the New Testament. On Brant Pitre's (http://singinginthereign.blogspot.com/ November 2008) website he points out something pretty amazing.
He says that some one the ancient Rabbi's taught that:" In the Age to Come all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering will never cease; all songs will cease, but the songs of thanksgiving will never cease." (Cited in Hartmut Gese, Essays in Biblical Theology 133).

So when the Messiah comes, out of all of the sacrifices in the OT, only one will remain and that is the Todah, thank offering. Which in Greek is Eucharistia, where we get the word Eucharist from.

Jeremiah 33 says the same thing.
Jeremiah 33:10-11 10 ¶ "Thus says the LORD, 'Yet again there shall be heard in this place, of which you say, "It is a waste, without man and without beast," that is, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast,
11 the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who say, "Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting"; and of those who bring a thank offering into the house of the LORD. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were at first,' says the LORD.

There is one more quote from the psalms that should be read - You know when Jesus is coming into Jerusalem on palm Sunday. and the people say - Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord - Hosanna, which we sing at Mass.

Psalm 118:19 - 119:1 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it.
21 I shall give thanks to Thee, for Thou hast answered me; And Thou hast become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.
23 This is the LORD's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 O LORD, do save, we beseech Thee; O LORD, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
27 The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28 Thou art my God, and I give thanks to Thee; Thou art my God, I extol Thee.
29 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
So with all of this in mind maybe try to get to Mass more than once a week, and give thanks for all the good things we have been given.