The Lamb of God Theme: Seventh Model

Lamb of GodAbridged from a work by: Rev. Msgr. Donald C. Hamburger

Model Seven: Malachi the Prophet – Malachi 1:11, 4:5 – 400 B.C.

An Observation: As I was doing some research on Malachi’s prophecy, I was led back to the sacrifice of Melchisedech; that of bread and wine around 2000 B.C. Note that Melchisedech was the king of Salem (later Jerusalem) and a priest of God who offered bread and wine as an unbloody sacrifice in thanksgiving for Abraham’s victory over the four eastern kings (Gen. 4:18-20). Because he was a type of Christ (both kings and priests who offer bread and wine to God), an antiphon in the rite of Ordination for a priest reads: “Christ the Lord, a priest forever in the line of Melchisedech, offered bread and wine.” In the first Eucharistic prayer of the Mass, the priest prays that God will accept his offerings just as He once accepted “the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.” __ The Catholic Replies Book, C.R. Publications, Norwood, MA 02062

This King of Salem is a mysterious figure who saluted Abram before God magnified his name to Abraham. It is therefore a very ancient incident in God’s plan which has perdured most prominently in our Catholic Liturgy of the Lamb of God Sacrifice. It points to the real Lamb of God as “a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.”

Malachi’s prophecy is not as popular a subject as it was in the first half of the 20th century, what I like to call the Golden Era of the Catholic Church in the USA and maybe the world. In those days, probably because of the stricter Eucharistic fast, daily Mass was usually scheduled quite early in the morning. Before receiving Holy Communion, the true Lamb of God, we had to abstain from all food and drink, even water, beginning at midnight. Because this encouraged having Mass as early as possible after daybreak, Malachi’s words were often quoted in our missals:

“. . . from the rising of the sun even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation: for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.” __ Mal. 1:11

Because this last of the Old Testament prophets described it as a clean oblation (to the Jews a ‘clean’ oblation was an ‘unbloody’ offering), artists illustrated our text books with the picture of a Catholic priest raising the chalice of the Mass up to the crucifix which, at that time, was immediately before him, hanging either from the ceiling above him or from the wall in front of him.

Malachi spoke these prophetic words: “Behold I will send you Elias (Elijah) the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (Mal. 4:5)” They have great importance when compared to the words of the angel Gabriel to Zachary at the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist: “And he shall convert many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias; that he may turn the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the incredulous to the wisdom of the just, to prepare unto the Lord a perfect people.” __ Luke 1:16,17

Thus Melchisedech’s “bread and wine sacrifice” is the beginning of another theme used by God; for example, the bread and wine of the Passover Meal (Cf. Ex. 12). This theme and the Lamb of God Theme run together in Mal. 4:5 above. These two themes flow together in the valley of time to swell the fullness of our understanding of God’s Eternal Plan. For now in his passage in Malachi 4:5 we see that the “clean offering” (which we now know to be Christ under the form of bread and wine) is beginning to take shape. And in Luke 1:16 the stage is set for John the Baptist (in the spirit and power of Elias) clearing the way for our Redeemer: making straight the path of our Lord, especially with the baptisms performed on the people. The Preparatory work for Christ’s revelation and God’s greatest gift to mankind is almost complete.

My Notes on this Abridgement of Father Hamburger’s text on the Lamb of God Theme in the Bible:

Father had a very strong devotion to Our Lady and here at this point in his work he seemed to stray from the theme. Father and I had several debates about this because it did not fit with the theme on the Lamb of God. I could not get him to give it up and it is mostly useful to those who actually knew the father and not of a great deal of use to those who didn’t. I say that because his use of language, within these chapters, sounds just like him.

Therefore I will omit his inserted Chapter which he called: Mary’s M & M’s which referred to her Memories and Melodies. He wrote this in a fictitious novella style and included the character of Luke because his Gospel was the only one to record the “melodies” that father wanted to illuminate us with: The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32), and the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-75).

Although I would suggest that we all get to know these three beautiful verses that have been sung in the Church almost from the beginning, there is no Lamb of God significance per se. Therefore, to keep on theme, I have decided to omit his private meditations that produced this conversation between Our Lady, Luke and others.

Forgive me Father: but I did let you print it your way the first time. I hope you don’t mind that I take liberties with the work for this internet Bible study. God bless you and I am sure Our Lady has taken good care of you since you departed this life. May you now be singing with her and the angelic choirs in Heaven!

The Lamb of God Theme: Sixth Model

Lamb of GodAbridged from a work by: Rev. Msgr. Donald C. Hamburger

Model Six: Isaiah, Draftsman for the Master Engineer – Isaiah Ch. 1-66 – Circa 750-675 B.C.

Biography: He was born to the aristocracy of the tribe of Judah around the middle of the 8th century before Christ and is called the “Pearl of the Prophets.” His name means; “The Lord is salvation.”

Forward: In Isaiah’s writings we read of future events some of which were beyond the full understanding of the recipient of the vision itself. Sometimes they occurred in such a distant future that only God’s knowledge could have imparted them to Isaiah.

Place: Isaiah’s  imagery can be seen as actual word pictures pertaining to Him  who is to become the “Redeemer” promised by God in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15) who will crush the serpent’s head as the Truth crushes half-truth!

Isaiah is used by God to enlighten the chosen people about the Lamb of God theme. After God’s last model, The Scapegoat, had been given to them with such precise rubrics, that it had developed into the great Jewish Feast of the Atonement; Yom Kippur. Centuries have passed but God’s time is not our time, He moves at His own pace. “This then shall be our everlasting ordinance for you: Once a year, atonement shall be made for all sins of the Israelites.” – (Leviticus 16:34)

It is Isaiah who first links the Lamb of God to the Man born of woman who will be God; thus exhibiting a love so great that only the Angels in Heaven could conceive of it. The prophet’s warning from God was lightly considered: “My word shall not return to me void . . . but shall prosper in the things for which I sent it.” – (Isaiah 55:11)

Specifications: The first startling fact that emerges from his writings is that God is giving Isaiah a set of specifications for a new version of the Lamb of God. Heretofore, the blood to be shed, was that of an animal as in the acceptable sacrifice of Abel (Cf. Gen. 4:1-5).

Through analogy, Isaiah sees that there will be a man whose blood will be shed; whose lamblike qualities will prove to be the embodiment of the types shown in our previous models, from that of Abel (Gen. 4) to that of the Scapegoat (Lev. 16).

God used Isaiah not only to introduce this new model of the Lamb of God theme but also to add a much greater development of the Messiah’s characteristics. He shows that not only will the fulfillment of the types of this theme be accomplished but also many types as well; such as “bread” seen in the Passover meal, the manna in the desert, to mention but one.

As with most prophecies, the details become clear only in their fulfillment and this part of Isaiah’s work will be dealt with in the fulfillment by our Lord.

For the theme of the Lamb of God I will dwell on Isaiah 53:7 only where he describes the “One who is to come” as a lamb. We will divide it up into three parts: The Judgment of Caiaphas, The Judgment of Pilate and the Messianic Prophecy of Isaiah 53 and 54.

Judgment of Caiaphas: Note the classic quotation from Isaiah as follows: “He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth. He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth.” – Is. 53:7

Matthew record’s the trial before Caiaphas in Chapter 26:57 ff.

As one author put it “the trial before Caiaphas was ‘rigged.’”

“Jesus came before the Sanhedrin twice: first at night, then in the morning. The trial before the ecclesiastical court was illegal for two reasons, the time element and procedure. No formal trial could be held at night, much less in the private home of the high priest. The high priest conducted the case instead of merely presiding as unbiased judge. False witnesses were deliberately admitted. There was no agreement in their testimony, which should have entailed dismissal of the case. The accusation of blasphemy was not proven: Christ in very truth was the Son of God.” – Footnote pg. 177, Chronological Harmony of the Gospels

Caiaphas pronounced the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: first, when he asked Jesus “dost thou make no answer . . .” but Jesus kept silence. (Mt. 26:57-68) “Then the high priest, standing up, said to him, ‘Dost though make no answer to the things that these men prefer against thee?’ But Jesus kept silence.”  As Isaiah had prophesied, “He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter . . . and he shall not open his mouth.” Secondly, Caiaphas used the official formula, “I adjure thee by the living God” and put the real question that troubled them: “tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God.” (Verse 63). Then, because Caiaphas couched his question in accord with divine law, Jesus, always obedient to His Father’s will, answered: “Thou hast said it.”

It is interesting to note that Caiaphas used the phrase “Son of God” above as Christ meant “Messiah” or the anointed one, the savior who was promised in Genesis 3:15. But “Son of God” was the claim that Jesus was making: namely, that He is divine . . . one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. And Jesus amplified his answer by saying “Thou hast said it. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming upon the clouds of heaven.” (Verse 64). Now this echoed the term son of man as used by the prophet Daniel in Chapter 7:13,14. “I beheld therefore in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of days: and they presented him before him. And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom that shall not be destroyed.”

Caiaphas, the high priest, understood clearly that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah and God, for he gave the biblical sign: “Then the high priest tore his garments, saying, ‘He has blasphemed, what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’ And they answered and said, ‘He is liable to death.’” (Verses 65-67).

Thus the high priest enlarged the Lamb of God significance by alluding to the scapegoat sacrifice; that of universal redemption (Cf. Lev. 16).

Judgment of Pontius Pilate: Even the “lamb” was silent. In the morning they took Jesus to Pontius Pilate. John the Evangelist describes it thus:

“They therefore led Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.  Now it was early in the morning, and they themselves did not enter the praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” __ John 18:28

From the Chronological Harmony of the Gospels: “The Jews who scrupled about contradicting legal defilement did not hesitate to incur the guilt of deicide on the very eve of the Passover. On days of great festivity the Roman procurator, the tribune and soldiers were stationed in the Tower of Antonia, at the northwest angle of the temple, to supervise the ceremonies and to be on hand in case of disturbance. It was in the court of this fortress that the praetorium of Pilate was established on that occasion, and there consequently that Christ was tried and condemned to death. As a Gentile fortress it could not be entered by Jews without their contracting defilement.”

Pilate, the Roman, made an allusion to the relationship of this Man to the Paschal Lamb when he reminded the Jews that it was their great feast when they ate the Passover Lamb.

Pilate went “outside to the Jews again, and said to them, ‘I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover.’” __ John 18:38-40

Twice Pilate asked Jesus about His silence. Once, after He was asked about being King of the Jews, Matthew writes:

. . . He made no answer “so that the procurator wondered exceedingly.” __ Mt. 27:12-14

And what was the accusation? They told Pilate:

“We have a Law, and according to that Law he must die, because he has made himself Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this statement, he feared the more . . . And he again went back into the praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where art thou from?” But Jesus gave him no answer __ John 19:7-10

John 19:10 relates the surprise of Pilate at the silence of his defense when Jesus stood before him at the praetorium: “Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Dost thou not speak to me? Dost thou not know that I have power to crucify thee, and that I have power to release thee?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou wouldst have no power at all over me were it not given thee from above. Therefore, he who betrayed me to thee has the greater sin.’” __ John 19:10-11

A second time after being accused of claiming to be the son of God, Jesus “gave him no answer” according to John. Then Pilate handed him over to the Jews to be crucified. Thus Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: Note that the prophet writes as though it has already happened!

“He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth. He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and shall not open his mouth.” __ Is. 53:7

The Messianic Prophecy of Isaiah (Is. 53 & 54): Isaiah is the first of God’s prophets to link man, the lamb and God in describing the Anointed One, the Messiah of Gen. 3:15.

Isaiah Chapter 53:1-8 states the following: “ Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was offered because it was his own will, and he opened not his mouth: he shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearer, and he shall not open his mouth. He was taken away from distress, and from judgment: who shall declare his generation? because he is cut out of the land of the living: for the wickedness of my people have I struck him.”

And in Isaiah Chapter 54, Verse 5 we get this: “For he that made thee shall rule over thee, the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, shall be called the god of all the earth.”

Other Testimony: On the cross Jesus’ kingship is acknowledged by the good thief, Dismas, who asked for and received pardon of his sins when Jesus replied, “This day thou shalt be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Also, the centurion, having observed the extraordinary phenomena of nature, exclaimed as Jesus gave up his spirit: “Truly he was the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:54)

Thus we see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in a threefold way:

  1. Jesus is the Lamb, silently led to sacrifice
  2. Jesus is a Lamb who is the Redeemer of the human race, a scapegoat par excellence
  3. Jesus is a Lamb who is thus addressed by God at the baptism in the Jordan: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)   And of whom John proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Comment: Caiaphas recognized Jesus’ claim though he called it blasphemy. Pilate called him King of the Jews and nailed a sign above Jesus’ head. It read Iesus Nazerenus Rex Iudaeorum or Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, I N R I. It was written in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin.

Conclusion: We owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people for preserving Isaiah’s words in scripture for us and the rest of the world.

We should all read Isaiah 45:17-23: “Israel is saved in the Lord with an eternal salvation: you shall not be confounded, and you shall not be ashamed forever and ever. For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens, God himself that formed the earth, and made it, the very maker thereof: he did not create it in vain: he formed it to be inhabited. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I have not said to the seed of Jacob: Seek me in vain. I am the Lord that speak justice, that declare right things. Assemble yourselves, and come, and draw near together, ye that are saved of the Gentiles: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven work, and pray to a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and come, and consult together: who hath declared this from the beginning, who hath foretold this from that time? Have not I the Lord, and there is no God else besides me? A just God and a saviour, there is none besides me. Be converted to me, and you shall be saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is no other.”

The Lamb of God Theme: Fifth Model

Lamb of God

The Lamb of God

Abridged from a work by: Rev. Msgr. Donald C. Hamburger

Model Five: The Scapegoat Sacrifice – Leviticus 16:20-22 – During the 40 Years in the Desert (Exodus)

The Book of Leviticus: The name “Leviticus” was bestowed on the third book of the Pentateuch by the ancient Greek translators because a good part of this book consists of sacrificial and other ritual laws prescribed for the priests of the tribe of Levi.

Leviticus brings in the idea of the “scapegoat:” (Lev. 16:20) and shows that the Lamb of God was used for many, many purposes of purification in the Old Testament by the law and the statute of God. None were so bad who could not be purified and none were so good that did not need to be purified by the blood of the Lamb.

Vicarious Model: Leviticus brings us the “Expiatory Model.” Although Abraham used a substitute animal for a sacrifice, it was not until centuries later that we find a clear-cut account of Yahweh assigning the Scapegoat Sacrifice. In this He designed for the Israelites a vicarious sacrifice in which a designated animal is sacrificed as a substitute and bears away the sins of the people. “We heard with our own ears, O God, our fathers have told us the story of the things you did in their days, you yourself, in days long ago.” (Ps. 44)

Time and Setting: The story was handed down by word of mouth. It was to Moses that God spoke after He had disciplined two of Aaron’s sons. So apparently, it was in the 13th century B.C. as the Israelites were approaching the Promised Land.

Name: From these Jewish antiquities we gain a new word: “Scapegoat.” It came to mean “a person or thing bearing blame for others,” in addition to its religious connotation.

The Prescribed Sacrifice: In Lev. Ch. 16 we read that God decreed the following: The priest was to select two goats and to cast lots. One was then signified to be sacrificed in the usual way on the altar, but the other to be used as a “scapegoat.” Placing both hands on its head, the priest prayed that all the sinful faults and transgressions of the Israelites were to be visited upon the beast. An attendant would then lead the “scapegoat” out into the wilderness where it would be left to die at the teeth of wild beasts or by dashing off a cliff to its death. The death of the scapegoat would thus destroy the sins and transgressions which had been placed upon it.

The laying on of hands was a symbolic representation of the transferring of sin and guilt to the animal that was to be sacrificed; which vicariously had to suffer instead of the man. This day came to be called “The Day of Atonement” or Yom Kippur in the Hebrew.

“Expiate” is a word we do not use much today but it comes from two Latin words; ex – meaning ‘out’ and piare – seeking to appease. Therefore, it is to purify with a sacred rite. Hence: to make complete satisfaction for (atonement for) as to expiate sin. The adjective “expiatory” means “having power, or the intention to make expiation; an atoning of sin.”

Vicarious comes from the Latin, vicis, to change the place or office of one person as assumed by another; such as vice-president. Hence for our purpose: performed or suffered by one person with results accruing to the benefit or advantage of another; substituted for, as a vicarious sacrifice.

Thus the scapegoat was made a vicarious sacrifice by God’s decree in that the Israelites use it as an expiatory sacrifice to atone for their transgressions and sins.

The animal, of itself, was not equal in value to be a substitute for all of them or for even one of them. To help clarify this difference, consider a story from one of Hitler’s death camps. St. Maximillian Kolbe, while in one of these camps, stepped forward to ask the guards selecting their quota of victims for the day, to let him take the place of one of those who had been marked for death. The reason he gave was that the man had a wife and children whereas he had none. The sacrifice was accepted and Fr. Maximillian was sent to his death “in place of” the other prisoner. Maximillian, then, was a vicarious sacrifice because it was one man substituted for the other (one man for another man).

Our heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit attested to Jesus becoming our “Scapegoat.” This took place when John the Baptist baptized Him in the river Jordan. The Baptizer admitted he recognized these heavenly signs and so called Him the “Lamb of God!”

Note the similarities peculiar to God’s rubrics (directions) in Leviticus 16 and to the Lamb’s sacrifice at Calvary.

  1. Although the other sacrifices were to be offered by Aaron in the temple, this one was to be outside in the wilderness! So too was Jesus taken outside the walls of the city to Golgotha to be sacrificed! “Jesus died outside the gate, to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us go to him outside the camp, bearing the insult which he bore. For here we have no lasting city; we are seeking one which is to come. Through him let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which acknowledge his name.” (Heb. 13:12)
  2. As God chose which one of the goats was to be the Scapegoat, so Jesus was designated by God, the Father. “Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
  3. As the sins of all the Jewish people were laid upon the Scapegoat, so the sins of all mankind were placed on Jesus for our redemption. St. Peter wrote, “In His own body He brought your sins to the Cross, so that all of us, dead to sin, could live in accord with God’s will. By His wounds you were healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24)  During the liturgy when the priest calls upon the Holy Spirit to make our gifts Holy, he is to place his hands out (in the “scapegoat” sign) together with thumbs crossed, as if placing his hands on the head of a scapegoat. In this way he asks God to place on Him, who will soon be present during the consecration, the sins of the people who have gathered so that He might take their sins away.
  4. As this was to be an “everlasting ordinance” for the Jews, so Jesus at the Last Supper gave to the Apostles and to all of mankind a new and everlasting covenant which is to be offered in commemoration by the Apostles and their successors. This makes it possible for the ordinance of Leviticus to be carried out forever, though the Jewish sacrifices ended with the destruction of the Temple around A.D. 70.
  5. John the Evangelist was given a new Revelation of that commemoration appearing in the form of a Lamb standing before the throne of God in Heaven (Cf. Apoc. 5:6-9); standing as though slain, taking the scroll from ‘Him who sat upon the throne’ and all the living creatures in heaven and on earth were saying, “To him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honor, and glory, and power, forever and ever.” (Cf. Apoc. 5:13) Is it any wonder that the rubric of the Traditional (Tridentine) Mass called for the server to ring the bells after the epiclesis and immediately after the consecration?

Importance to the Jews: That the Israelites held Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) to be of the greatest importance can be judged from the following:

  • It was the only day of the year that the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies: otherwise, he was forbidden under penalty of death.
  • The High Priest must wear sacred vestments.
  • A ritual bath was required by the High Priest prior to his entering the Holy of Holies.
  • At the time of our Lord it was considered one of the major feasts, along with Passover and Pentecost.
  • To this day the Jewish people have preserved a celebration of Yom Kippur as one of their High Holy Days.

Yom Kippur is the annual cleansing of the faults of the Chosen People; John the Baptist’s “Lamb of God” continually offers Himself as atonement for the sins of all peoples who will but believe.

Importance to Catholic Christians: Because of the Incarnation, Jesus is seen as the Scapegoat Sacrifice par excellence. In One Divine Person He embodies the perfect vicarious victim offered in expiation of the sins of all mankind, even Original Sin. He is that Promised One of Genesis 3:15 even more than could have been imagined at the time it was written.

Mary in her perfection made her supreme act of faith by replying to Gabriel’s startling message: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)  John the Evangelist sums it up in the Prologue of his Gospel: “ . . . the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God . . . and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1-14)

One Divine Person Who shares His Divine Nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in love and in obedience to His Father’s will, assumed our nature through Mary. Thus His Precious human Blood was sacrificed in expiation of our sin; a sacrifice offered by a Divine Person, Jesus Christ, and of infinite merit; a victim designated and chosen by His Father for our redemption. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” a victim pointed out by John the Baptizer: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world . . . this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34)

The Liturgical Application: After I learned of the “Scapegoat Sacrifice,” I more fully realized the copious meaning that a single, quiet, liturgical gesture could contain. When I was ordained in 1946 the offerings of the people were represented on the altar by the bread and the wine signified by the Latin word “Oblata.” Over them, the priest stretched his two open hands extended flatly with the thumbs crossed, right over left, as he prayed.

In this prayer he again referred to the “oblation” and then, made the sign of the cross five times with his right hand: once for each of the principle wounds in the Body of Christ on the Cross – the hands, feet and side.

This ceremony – the laying on of hands – is still indicated by the 1970 rubrics in all four Eucharistic prayers. The silent gesture expresses the sacrificial elements indicated by the “Scapegoat Model” and embodies a deeper mystical meaning.

Reverend Nicholas Gihr sums it up nicely:

“In the Mosaic worship the laying on of hands was a symbolic representation of the transferring of sin and guilt to the animal that was to be sacrificed, which vicariously had to suffer death instead of man. Here in the Holy Mass the laying on of hands has a similar object, and, therefore, in a visible and energetic way it deeply fixes the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, for it shows that Christ on the altar, in our place, for our sake, and on account of our sins offers Himself; — and, moreover, it indicates that we should unite ourselves with His Sacrifice, offering ourselves in it and along with it.” __ Pg. 626, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Lamb of God Theme: Intro, Preface and First Model

Lamb of God

The Lamb of God


Abridged from a work by: Rev. Msgr. Donald C. Hamburger

Many years ago (17 years to be exact) I was privileged to help an old retired priest write a small booklet about something he had thought through for many years: the Lamb of God Theme in the Bible. I have searched high and low without having any luck looking for the original disks so that I might turn it into a PDF file for people to download. I know it would have made the now deceased Monsignor very happy; for he used his own money to print many thousands of copies which he handed out to anyone and everyone he met. It was printed during the 51st anniversary of his priesthood. With great love and admiration for this holy man of God, I will attempt to abridge his original work into a series of posts. God grant that I do this servant of God justice in my attempt.

Monsignor Hamburger took as his personal motto the following words from (John 10:10): “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.”  And indeed he succeeded in giving a more abundant life to any who had the privilege to know him. This little booklet was just a small portion of that mission which he took so seriously.

Reverend Monsignor Donald C. Hamburger opened his little book with a letter to his friends that expressed how this theme developed in his mind. It began with his being involved in the enlarging of our church and specifically with his design of a huge stained glass window with a depiction of the Lamb of God and many of the early prototypes or types that were used in the Bible which were fulfilled in Christ. Next, he discussed this theme often with Rev. Walter Miller Crowe a good friend and pastor of the local Presbyterian Church. Together they decided to use this theme as a suitable topic for use as a joint adult study back in 1988. In 1992 he also used this theme to give talks in our parish as a Lenten Series. It was during the preparations for these talks, that he began to develop a strong desire to put in print this thematic reflection of the Bible for a wider consideration. May you rest in peace my dear friend and may your love of this theme lead others to love it as well and develop this theme even further; for you wrote it specifically for the enjoyment and spiritual insight that it might give to all of us. This theme brought you great joy. May it also bring others to your joy as well! So, we will begin:

The Preface:

He quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 53. The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously “by words which are intrinsically bound up with each other” and shed light on each other. It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.

The Contingent Plan: Monsignor asks us here to remember and to reread the first 3 chapters of Genesis and to remember the special gifts that were given to Adam and Eve.

Scripture scholars have distinguished these sets of gifts given to our first parents: 1) natural, 2) supernatural, and 3) preternatural. Suffice it to say that Adam and Eve are said to have lost the supernatural and preternatural gifts, and even the use of the natural gifts are impaired by their act of disobedience. We can see from this that the present earth in its entirety is not the original plan of the Creator but a contingent one following upon the Fall of Adam and Eve.

The first section of Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Splendor of Truth says: “As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is ‘a liar and the father of all lies’ (Jn. 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living God in order to direct it toward idols (Cf. I Thes. 1:9), exchanging ‘the truth about God for a lie’ (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened.” (Section I)

Cardinal John J. O’Connor spoke of this from the pulpit in 1994 saying: “In this extraordinary mystery that we don’t pretend to understand we find that Adam and Eve transmitted this sin through human nature. We receive human nature and receive the corruption, the destruction, the devastation of Original Sin. When we are baptized, it becomes possible for us to get back into heaven because Christ came and suffered and died for us and gave us the Sacrament of Baptism to open the gates of heaven. Unfortunately, we’re still left with all of the other faults that accrued because of Original Sin. We’ve lost what are called the ‘preternatural’ gifts of God: freedom from death, from suffering, from temptation, and so on.”

Prelude A: The Promise – Genesis, Chapter 3 – Prehistory.

Here Monsignor enumerates the fall of the angels from grace; those we now call Satan and the other devils. He posits that they were lost due to pride and that some theologians have thought that they thought it beneath them to have to worship God as man, when God’s plan was revealed to them. Their pride then left them to be cast from heaven without any chance of future redemption.

However, unlike the pure spirits, Adam and Eve were spared from immediate damnation to hell. Instead, they were promised a redeemer and permitted a chance to work out their salvation so that they could re-enter heaven if they loved and served God. Ever since, Satan and the fallen angels have been jealous of humans and are one of the three great enemies that we humans have to struggle against: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Note: Almighty God delivered the sentences of punishment upon each in turn: the punishment given to the serpent was the first. It was also our Good News, namely, that eventually an offspring of woman will crush Satan’s power. God will accept this as restitution for Adam’s sin and reopen the gates of Heaven. What was not revealed at the time was what I mentioned above, namely, that the son of woman was also going to be the Son of the Triune God. No wonder the Liturgy of Holy Week refers to the original sin as: “O, Felix Culpa” (O, Happy Fault) that has merited so great and such a Redeemer! And now, we of the New Testament, “the Lamb of God people,” have learned that God did become man, in everything but sin; Emanuel, God with us.

The CCC sums it up as follows: 407. “The doctrine of Original Sin, connected with that of the redemption by Christ, illuminates the human condition and human activity in the world . . . Ignoring the fact that humanity has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action and morals.”

We think we are going to create a perfect world but we forget about Original Sin. The final paragraph in this section says: “After the fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God called him and in a mysterious way heralded his victory over evil and the recovery from his fall – the first announcement of the coming of the Messiah and Redeemer, that of a struggle between the serpent and the Woman, Mary, and of the final victory of the one descending from Her (Jesus). (Gen. 3:15)”

Prelude B: The Good News – Genesis 3:15 (Proto-evangelium) – Prehistory

What we call the Proto-evangelium or first gospel is the forerunner of all the reappearances of the Lamb of God in the Bible; the written word of Divine Revelation. The Proto-evangelium is God’s first intimation in the Bible of His grandiose plan to show His limitless love for mankind: He Himself will become the Lamb when blood-shedding will pay the price of redemption from the offense of Original Sin. It is the first telling of the Good News that will bring “Joy to the World” when the offspring of a woman will crush the power of mankind’s adversary, the serpent known as Satan.

Genesis 3:15 is but a sketch perhaps of God’s plan and draft of the model as seen by John in the book of Revelation: “I saw a Lamb standing as though slain . . . “ (cf Rev. 5,6)

But what a long time it took in years, as man counts them, between the first telling of the Good News and the actual accomplishment of the fact! How long it was from that Proto-evangelium in the Garden of Eden to the night when the Angels sang in the Shepherd’s Field outside of Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.”

Many centuries would pass with the Great Designer filling in, line by line, the various types before the Great Fulfillment finally appears. We read of the first model in Genesis 4:1-16: the Acceptable Sacrifice of Abel.

Model One: Abel’s Acceptable Sacrifice – Genesis 4:1-24 – Prehistory

Introduction:  Somewhere in the murky mists of many millennia, before history came to be written, Adam and Eve had two sons named Cain and Abel. Each offered a sacrifice to their Maker. The sacrifice of the younger was acceptable to God while the other was not.

Their story was passed down for many centuries by word of mouth. It was used by Moses under Divine Inspiration when he composed the first five books of the Bible; i.e. the Pentateuch or as the Jews know it, the Torah.

As the Divine Liturgy came to be formed, Abel’s sacrifice received “pride of place” because of its invaluable characteristic: Purity of Intention. It is the first account in the Bible of the Lamb of God Sacrifice.

Jesus Himself referred to “Abel the just” (Cf. Mt. 23:35) as did several of the Apostles. In our own day the Council Fathers, too, mentioned Abel (Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Ch. 1, 2). No wonder modern liturgists employed its reference in Eucharistic Prayer #1, called the Roman Canon:

“Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel . . .”

Then there follows a prayer which certainly refers to John’s Apocalypse or Revelation:

“Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven . . .”

As we read John’s Revelation (Ch. 5, 6), we can easily derive that God’s plan is including it not only in every Mass we now offer but also in the eternal plan of heaven’s activities. Therefore, it has an eschatological meaning.

Since Abel’s sacrifice entailed the shedding of an animal’s blood, it would be good for us to consider briefly the part that blood played for centuries whenever God made a covenant with the Chosen People before the time of Christ. This will help us understand the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross and the Sacrament of the Divine Liturgy. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a necessary part of the God-man’s development of this sign. In fact, it was spiritualized by transforming this sacrifice into a Sacrament, “the new and everlasting covenant” (I Cor. 11:23), at the Last Supper. And, again we see this sacrifice immortalized in St. John’s Apocalypse when in Heaven he “saw a Lamb standing as though slain” (Apoc. 5:6), as I mentioned earlier.

Indeed it was this need for “blood” that gave Jesus the motivation to use His divine power to change the wine of the Passover meal into His Precious Blood. This then, led to the institution of the priesthood of the Apostles.

Now we continue with the story: Paul refers to Jesus, in I Cor. 15:45-49, as the second Adam. We can see further analogy to His offspring as being like to the second attempt by God to raise up children pleasing to Him and of clean heart. The primitive example of this is the second son of Adam. The final example of this is those “born of the spirit” who followed Christ (Cf. John 1:13).

Although the elder brother Cain offered of his efforts to till the soil, it was the younger brother, Abel  and keeper of the flocks, whose sacrifice, though offered after Cain’s, was acceptable to God; it was offered with a clean heart.

God even gave Cain a second chance by suggesting that Cain be reconciled; for then his sacrifice would also be acceptable to God. Jesus laid down this same condition when He told His followers to leave their gifts at the altar and to first go reconcile themselves with their brothers; only then were they to come and offer gifts at the altar (Cf. Mat. 5:23 ff.). This is a good reason for our modern liturgists to move the “sign of peace” to the beginning of the Mass. The sign that God gave Cain served two purposes: 1) it would remain permanently as a sign of God’s special protection, reminding us of the spiritual character that is given by three of the sacraments instituted by Christ; Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders and  2) it assured Cain that God would save him from being slain by others.

Because Cain was forced to wander the face of the earth, he carried the message wherever he went; much like the future children of Abraham who carried the mark of their covenant with God in the flesh (circumcision). They also bore witness to the purity of God’s message into all the lands which they traveled.

So too, the early followers of Christ were driven out of the Holy Land by the Romans and the Jews after A.D. 70. It is interesting to note that only one Apostle died in Jerusalem; James, the brother of John. “The blood of a martyr becomes the seed of Christians!”

“Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”  – The Beatitudes.