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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OT Sacrifices That Express Communion

Now that we are in the season of Lent, we begin to prepare ourselves for Good Friday that we might participate in Easter Sunday. So I will try to show some of those Sacrifices that Israel would have made in the Old Testament and how they are fulfilled in the Sacrifice of Jesus in the New Testament.

According to Dr. Brant Pitre, there were 5 different kinds of sacrifice in the Old Testament. Out of the five different kinds, there are three that express communion with God and two that restore communion with God.

Now it appears as though these five different sacrifices were used during Israel's liturgical year, but they could also be used by individuals as well.

I think here is a great place to make a note about these sacrifices. These sacrifices were used to either express a relationship with God or restore a relationship with him. Either way, there is implied that you do have a relationship with him or you once did and now you want to gain back what you have lost.

Now at Mass, it is no coincidence that we say the creed before we are called to receive communion.

What we are doing is professing belief in what has been revealed and belief in the One from whom it came, and then we are uniting ourselves to the source of that creed, namely God, who revealed it.

I liken this to a wedding (which every Mass is a participation in the wedding feast of heaven) and at a wedding you have two parts, the vows and the consummation of those vows.
But what if one person in the party didn't mean all of the vows that were spoken, or they just refused to say them, but they still wanted to consummate the marriage. This would be an invalid marriage.

In some sense, the same thing is true with non Catholics receiving communion at Mass. Maybe they don't agree with all of the creed but they want to receive Jesus in communion. While it seems "unfair" or "mean" that we ask them to refrain from receiving communion, we just say that they need to be IN COMMUNION before they receive communion. If you are not in agreement, it is as if you are saying something with your lips that you aren't saying with your heart, and the Bible warns against this.

The three sacrifices that expressed communion were the 'whole burnt offering', the 'bread offering' and the 'peace offering'.

These three sacrifices can be found in Leviticus 1, 2, and 3.

A "whole burnt offering" is when you took an unblemished male lamb and burnt the whole thing up to God. This signified a complete surrendering to God. It is this kind of sacrifice that the Israelites would offer two times a day in the morning and evening sacrifices.

The next one is the "bread offering' found in Leviticus 2. Now in Leviticus it talks about bringing grain and wheat to the priests, but I am pretty sure that this is in the form of bread. Sometimes it says to make them into wafers. The priest would then put oil on this in the shape of a "T". Wine was also poured out in this sacrifice.

Now the significance of this is giving a gift of thanksgiving to God.

This bread is what was kept in the temple in Jerusalem and was used at priestly ordinations.
And a surprising place to find this was Malachi 1:11
Malachi 1:11 "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says the LORD of hosts.
Now when it says grain offering, it is speaking of the bread offering. Don't we people of the nations bring what looks like a "bread offering" to the Lord?

Finally, the 'peace offering" was to offer a sacrificial communal meal with God.
What you would do is offer to God an unblemished animal along with food and drink.
This is the sacrifice that the ancient rabbi's said would be the only one that would be celebrated after the Messiah came.

So in brief, we have thanks, complete surrender, and communion being offered up to God, which are elements of the one Eucharistic sacrifice that we offer to God at Mass, not in three separate sacrifices, but in one sacrifice.

I'll post on the last two types of sacrifices that restore communion with God next week.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's Up With Statues?

So often Catholics are accused of worshipping statues. Which is partially understandable if you see a Catholic kneeling in front one. There is though biblical basis for having them

Lets start with some basics.
First God made Man in his own image. So images in and of themselves can't be evil or else the fact that God made us into an image of himself would be evil.

Second what needs to be understood is the temple of the Jews.
While the Israelites are in the desert Moses goes up on the mountain and is given directions concerning the construction of the tabernacle or portable temple.
god says this:

Exodus 25:9 "According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.
Exodus 25:40 "And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.

So Moses does just that, he constructs these things after the pattern that he saw. And the original tabernacle or temple is in heaven. That is what Moses is seeing.

So when God told him to put two cherubim on the ark here on the earth that is because there are two cherubim on the ark in heaven.

When the Israelites had finally reached the promised land and Solomon was building the temple. He made it like the tabernacle but bigger.

Look what else Solomon has:
2 Chronicles 3:7 7 He also overlaid the house with gold-- the beams, the thresholds, and its walls, and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls.

And not only this but the temple is also decorated with all sorts of tees and flowers. Why? Because this is what the temple in heaven looks like.

Now something that we want to ask ourselves is this:
Why aren't there any statues of people, meaning humans, in the temple?
Well if the temple on earth is a representation of the temple in heaven, the reason why there were no statues of humans in the temple is because there were no humans in heaven yet, Jesus had not yet opened the gates of heaven.

So now that there are humans in heaven, if you are going to build a replica of the heavenly temple, like almost every Catholic Church is, or should be - then it better have statues in it of those who are in heaven.

So what about the first commandment that says that we aren't to make graven images?

Exodus 20:3-5 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God.

The context is clearly worshipping these idols, not just making graven images. and besides God would say 5 chapters later in Exodus 25 to make 2 graven images of cherubim.
Now we certainly aren't worshipping those statues or saints of whom they represent.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Three Lusts and Lent's Solution

You know year after year we hear of the famous three things that we are suppose to do during Lent and that is Pray, Fast, and Give Alms. Now while we are suppose to be doing these things during the rest of the year. During the season of Lent we are to do them with more intensity.

Here is a little background to why we pray, fast, and give alms during lent. This all goes back to the garden of Eden and the fall of our first parents. I recently found out that Eve was tempted with three temptations. Look at
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was a delight to the eyes,
and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,

Now the ancient Rabbi's called this the three Lusts.
The Lust of the Flesh
The Lust of the Eyes and the
Pride of Life.

St John in his first letter reflects this teaching when he says:
1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh
and the lust of the eyes
and the pride of life,
is not of the Father but is of the world.

Here is the meaning behind the three Lusts:
Well the lust of the flesh would be for any disordered physical pleasure. In our Culture we are bombarded with magazines and shows that offer us physical pleasure. Or Drugs, or gorging ourselves with Food.
The lust of the eyes would be any disordered desire for material things. Some examples would be maybe a shopping spree, or the collection of great possessions.
The pride of life would a disordered desire for Power or social standing.

There are some other Characters in the Bible that displayed these disorders. I would have to say that King Solomon, It would appear systematically fell into these three great sins.
This is located in 1 Kings chapters 10 and 11.
First is the lust of the eyes - when King Solomon taxes the people 666 talents of Gold, and creates all of these lavish vessels for himself.
Then is the Pride of life, when he makes a standing army.
And the lust of the flesh is when he gets the 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Now what is also significant is with each of these sins. God had told Moses earlier that these three things are exactly what a king is NOT suppose to do.

Jesus himself gets tempted withese three temptations.
We find this in Matthew Chapter 4.
The devil tempts Jesus first with changing stones into bread.
This is the Lust of the flesh. Now while it might seem not so tempting, except it would have been an entirely selfish gift to himself.
Next is when the devil takes Jesus to the top of the temple and says to cast himself down and the angels will catch him. This would have been very, very visible sign to everyone that Jesus was the Christ and a great display of power. This is pride of life. Look at me - I am the Christ, I can to tricks!!
Finally the devil offers Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world, without the cross. If only Jesus would worship him. This is the lust of the eyes.

But Jesus conquers all of these and he tells us how in Matthew chapter 6.
He gives us three solutions to these three lusts. Pray, Fast and give alms.
Praying is when we say that God is in charge and not me. Prayer is acknowledging that God knows what is best for us because he loves us and designed us. Praying is when we say not look at me, but look at God.
Fasting is when we tell our bodies that we are in control of them and not the other way around. Before the fall of Adam and Eve, their desires were ruled by their intellect. Now our intellect is ruled by our desires. By fasting we tell our bodies that we do not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of God.
By giving alms to the poor or those in need, we are conquering the lust of the eyes. Our eyes tell us that we need this and this and that and some or all of those. This is of course a lie. We are designed not to be filled with the good gifts of this earth, but with God himself. St. Augustine said that "our hearts are restless, until they rest in God." Also, you can' take all of this stuff with you when you go anyway, so you might as well give it to gave treasure in heaven.

You know what is also significant about these three things is when Jesus says them in Matthew Chapter 6 he says - WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast, WHEN you give alms. He is assuming that we are doing them.

Getting back to Jesus in the desert. Jesus was in the desert 40 days and nights. He was in the desert conquering where the Israel had failed during their 40 years. But many people don't know is that we are the New Israel in the desert, and we join Jesus these 40 days to get our minds, hearts, and actions refocused on where we are headed.
We, the Church are the New Israel that have passed through the waters of baptism (like they had in the red Sea).
We can be fed on the new manna of the Eucharist that comes to us daily. And we are here waiting to enter the promised land of heaven. So this 40 days is suppose to be a summery of our entire journey toward heaven the rest of the year. It is during this time that we are to get refocused on our journey to our heavenly home, which is best done by prayer fasting and giving alms.

Now prayer, fasting, and giving alms are related to something else.
We have heard how when people join a religious community, they take vows of obedience, celibacy, and poverty. Well these are just the greatest forms of prayer, fasting, and giving alms.

When we pray we are telling God we are not in charge, and being obedient to someone is giving them charge over you.
For those who are celibate, it is giving up intimate physical relations, which is a pretty big fast, and giving them to God.
Finally, it is in poverty that we own nothing and give away all things as alms.

Source: For the most part Dr. Brant Pitre - http://www.catholic-productions.com/store/audio/pitre/temptations.html

Any and all of his talks should be purchased!