Does the Old Testament Matter?

OTNT

Did God create a covenant with the Jews and did He found a church and make of the Jewish People the Chosen Ones or not? If not, then the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is a fairy tale and the Decalogue a mere fabrication without any meaning at all. It makes no difference to you that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt or that God instituted a hierarchy and a priesthood and led them through the wilderness of this world to a land of milk and honey. Are you sure you wish to throw out the prophets and the psalms of David and the foreshadowing or models of the reformed Church and the NT practices that Christ instituted and commissioned in His own Blood? It is still the work of God and it is the nature of revelation that it should unfold and blossom. Every blossom of beauty starts with a seed; God’s words are not without significance in any age. His instructions are not arbitrarily dismissed until or unless God makes the change and abrogates one practice for another. Let us also not confuse the Law and the law. The small letter law seems to be more like what we call practice; which should reflect the Laws of God and bring them to life in the living of the people from day to day.

Without an understanding of the richness of the OT you will never have a proper understanding of the NT. All of the new testament reiterates and quotes passages from the old. You can hardly read a single book in the NT that does not do this and note that they speak with great honor and respect for what their God has done for them. You would throw out all that which is not in keeping with modern evolution of thought or all that is not based in a mere historical record by men. Your faith would be impoverished by its lack of understanding of the development of Christianity whose roots go back to prehistoric times.

Was Christ wrong to follow the Law of the Jews?  There is no escaping His Jewishness. He did not come to change a jot or a tittle of the Law and yet He did throw out the extraneous dross that had built up within the faith and abrogated many practices (the law) which were no longer appropriate. He interpreted the OT so that it is understandable and thus the OT sheds light on Christ and lives its history in expectation of His arrival.

Parsing the works of God is an impoverished faith without roots and without meaning; and it misses much of the workings of the One True God . . . as in a world bereft of the OT, He is a God that cannot get things right and makes mistakes and does not meet the modern enlightened thoughts of men of our enlightened times.

God to the modern enlightened and moral superior age that we live in, is cruel and unforgiving and violent and yet there is another way of reading the OT. Is there anything more beautiful than the Song of Songs or anything worth gaining from a reading of the Psalms and Proverbs or the book of Wisdom? Is the history of the maturation and corruption by men of God’s Church not a lesson worth studying and learning from? It is a totality that cannot be avoided. It is like chucking your grandparents from your family tree because you are of a different age and understanding of things than they were.

Headlines: God makes a big mistake and tells the Jewish people that He will be their God and that they will be His people. Since we think that the OT is not befitting our New God then He must not be an omniscient God since He makes such fundamental moral, ethical and judgmental errors . . . and so why should you or anyone else accept Him today if He was capable of such big and obvious blunders in the past?

Perhaps more time should be spent looking for the themes (the seeds) of our modern faith and the patience and love God endured on our behalf until such time that He felt that mankind was ready to hear the Word of God in the flesh and complete His plan for our salvation. Give thanks to God for the whole journey of humanity as it was necessary or it would not have occured.

And as to our own sinfulness and disobedience: O happy fault. For it gave to us a most remarkable Redeemer.

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THE REMNANT NEWSPAPER: Prophetic Words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Many a modern preacher is far less concerned with preaching Christ and Him crucified than he is with his popularity with his congregation.  A want of intellectual backbone makes him straddle the ox of truth and the ass of nonsense…Fulton J. Sheen

America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance.  It is not.  It is suffering from tolerance:  tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos.  Our country is not nearly so much overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded.  The man who can make up his mind in an orderly way, as a man might make up his bed, is called a bigot; but a man who cannot make up his mind, any more than he can make up for lost time, is called tolerant and broad-minded.

A bigoted man is one who refuses to accept a reason for anything; a broad-minded man is one who will accept anything for a reason—providing it is not a good reason.  It is true that there is a demand for precision, exactness, and definiteness, but it is only for precision in scientific measurement, not in logic. The breakdown that has produced this natural broad-mindedness is mental, not moral.  The evidence for this statement is threefold: the tendency to settle issues not by arguments but by words, the unqualified willingness to accept the authority of anyone on the subject of religion, and lastly the love of novelty.

Read more . . .

Principles for Preparation – A Reflection on the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent | Archdiocese of Washington

But who may abide the day of his coming and who shall stand when he appeareth? And this is the cry that goes up from the final pages of the Old Testament (Mal 3:2). And the Lord himself gives the answer:

See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; lest I come and strike the land with doom! (Mal 4:5-6)

And thus with these words the Old Testament ends.

Read more . . .

Trading a Bowl of Pottage for Your Soul

In today’s world a bowl of pottage might be more likened to an Obama-phone, Obama-care, free contraceptives and welfare checks. However, one’s soul is ethereal and you cannot hold it in your hand or deposit it in the bank. So it seems a profitable trade for our 21st century neighbors as Esau’s dreadful decision did to him. I guess it’s the old bird in the hand vs. the two in the bush syndrome.

However, the world is a Godless place and I suppose to some extent it always was and always will be. The Church has had its ups and downs as well, being filled with zealous believers in one age and being bereft of any semblance of a vital and life-giving faith in another. Somehow, a remnant is always left to revitalize the faith in a future age and the Barque of Peter lumbers on, laden with the heavy burdens and baggage of many who have walked Her corridors; leaving their baggage of unrepentant sins and lost lives within Her holds – lives lived in complete disobedience of the faith but confident that they would be saved by their claim of having been physically onboard.

It doesn’t take much intellect to reason out the type of age we live in at present. The world is always in shambles but the Church too has had far better days and it will again in the future. It is the ancient cycle of sin, sorrow, despair, renewed faith, God’s Mercy, and redemption. Of course, followed by another fall and once more the cycle begins again. It has been going on for countless ages and the Old Testament is full of this ever repeating history of mankind.

I totally agree with Cardinal Ratzinger’s response which he made before becoming Pope. When asked about the health of the Church, he responded that it was just fine but that the number of people in the Church is much smaller than people think. It seems that we always have a “remnant” Church but in some times we have a larger remnant than in others. So in times like these we find far more individuals who would trade their souls for a bowl of pottage than at other more happy times.

What are some of the signs (in no particular order) that we might see in a Church that is more in tune to the world than to Her supernatural end?

This past Sunday I was treated to a honky-tonk piano medley as I approached the altar to receive the Bread of Life: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. If you can imagine the scene in an old western with a gent, usually sporting a pork pie hat and a pair of dealer sleeve bands, seen playing dance hall music, you have come very close to envisioning what we had to endure at Mass. It was like sashaying up to the bar in an old time saloon to get a shot of rye and a pickled pig’s foot. There was nothing spiritual about the experience but it doesn’t seem to bother those in attendance at all. That might be a sign.

Before the final blessing we were also treated by a bevy of parishioners who wanted to tell everyone present about their birthdays, their anniversaries and achievements to a resounding applause from all who were present. I thought we were at a political rally, giving thanks and tribute to our best contributors. Perhaps that was another sign.

How about the myriad of priests who make it sound like it is easy to get to heaven: we just need to be good to one another and keep doing what we are doing and all will be fine. It’s a very positive message and very uplifting to the crowds. However, that just doesn’t square with the teachings of the Church or the Bible. So where is the teachings and condemnation of sin that was a staple of Church teaching some 60 years ago? When was the last time they confronted people with the hard sins to speak of: contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and the like? Has a pastor ever condemned governments that enslave people through socialism, Marxism or communism and given the teachings of our Popes that refuted them? Silence from the pulpit, our diocesan bishops and the USCCB are almost deafening. As humorous as are the old ads in Oxford Review that spoke of Father Flapdoodle and his silly antics, we see these priests all over the place and they are, in my opinion, a sign of the times.

When was the last time the priest spoke to the congregation concerning our belief in transubstantiation? It is unfortunate that since the Second Vatican Council, which never mentions the word in any of the documents, only makes reference to Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in terms of the Real Presence. Now that doesn’t sound that bad does it? Unfortunately, in our ecumenical talks with other faiths we see that others, who do not believe in transubstantiation, also speak of belief in the Real Presence as well. Is this a point of agreement? Those who believe in trans-finalization, consubstantiation, trans-signification and the nebulous, “we think God is somehow present with us when we receive communion” also call it the Real Presence: but is it the same Real Presence we speak of? Are we clear when speaking to these people or are we only trying to make things look as if we have agreement when what we truly have is a disagreement on a defined doctrine of the faith? This might qualify as a sign as well.

How about the following:

  • Abortion
  • Contraception
  • Homosexual Marriage
  • Pre-marital Sex
  • Extra-marital Sex
  • Divorce
  • Euthanasia
  • Homosexual Adoptions

These are just a few of the ‘accepted norms’ or issues that will soon be accepted by a plurality of society. I think these are definitely a sign that society has already gone over the moral bankruptcy cliff.

There is not, I think much difference, to moral and fiscal bankruptcy: they each have very similar traits.

In fiscal bankruptcy, through greed and excesses in spending, we find ourselves in bankruptcy court and forced to abide by their advice and amend our spending habits. Often we must make an effort to repay our debts. So there is a way forward.

Now see how similar that is to our own moral bankruptcy. You first have to recognize that you are morally bankrupt though this is hard for anyone to believe of themselves. Their sins blind their eyes to right and wrong. Once recognized, we have ‘bankruptcy court’ called the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we can express our sorrow, receive forgiveness and seek a way to repay those whom we have wronged. We also have a way forward – thanks to God and the Sacraments of His Church.

Though we may be smug at the moment with our versions of Esau’s pottage, one may awake as did Esau to see that our entire inheritance has been squandered and that there is nothing left for us or our heritage. We have fiddled away while Rome was burning and are left bereft of our worldly goods. Sadly for those whose eyes were fixated upon the goods of this world, they stand a good chance, living in the midst of moral bankruptcy, of losing their eternal inheritance and birthright as well; the only gift that does not corrode over time. In my opinion, not such a good trade afterall.

How to Give Adequate Thanks to God. A Meditation on Thanksgiving Day | Archdiocese of Washington

On this feast of Thanksgiving (here in America) we do well to ponder how we ought to give thanks to God. Indeed, how can one adequately thank God who is the giver of every good and perfect gift? Is it really enough to simply kneel and say a prayer of thanks? Perhaps we should run to Church and light a candle, or visit some distant shrine? Perhaps even doing the “Snoopy dance” as we say over and over, Thank you thank you thank you” ?!

But none of these acts of thanksgiving would prove adequate. God has been too good, has done too much, and is, after all, God.

Indeed, a great question went up in the Old Testament regarding this very problem of adequately thanking God. It occurs in Psalm 116 wherein the psalmist plaintively asks

“What return can I ever make to the Lord for all the good he is done for me?” (Psalm 116:12)

To that point the Jewish people had been accustomed to killing thousands of animals every day and burning them up in the Temple in order to give thanks, and to atone for sin. But the blood of animals cannot atone for sin and neither can slaying even many thousands of them really give adequate thanks to God.

Read more . . .

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!

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Another Relevant Essay

 

Scandals

by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Every now and then people come across a counterfeit bill, but I never knew anyone who, because of it, argued that the United States currency was worthless. Astronomers have seen spots on the sun, but I have yet to hear of one who denied that the sun is the light of the world. But I know many who pick out the failings and sins of a few Catholics and then say: “But, my dear, they don’t tell you everything! The Church is really the work of the devil.”

This extreme point of view starts with a fact: There are scandals. For example, some Catholic husbands and wives are unfaithful; some Catholic politicians are more crooked than those who have no religion; some Catholic boys steal; some Catholic girls worship the same saints as pagan girls: movie heroes or band leaders; some Catholic industrialists are selfish and hardhearted and totally indifferent to the rights of workers; some Catholic labor leaders are more interested in keeping their leadership by annual strikes than in cooperating for social justice. Then in the Papacy, there is Alexander VI.

What does all this prove, but that Our Dear Lord has espoused humanity as it is, rather than as we would like it to be! He never expected His Mystical Body the Church to be without scandals because He Himself was the first scandal. It was a terrible scandal for those who knew Him to be God to see Him crucified and go down to seeming defeat, at the moment His enemies challenged Him to prove His Divinity by coming down from the Cross. No wonder He had to beg His followers not to be scandalized by Him. If the human nature of Our Lord could suffer physical defeat and be a scandal, why should there not be scandals in Our Lord’s Mystical Body made up of poor mortals such as we? If He permitted thirst, pain and a death sentence to affect His Physical Body, why should He not permit mystical and moral weaknesses such as loss of faith, sin, scandals, heresies, schisms, and sacrileges to affect His Mystical Body? When these things do happen, it does not prove that the Mystical Body the Church is not Divine in its inmost nature, any more than the Crucifixion of Our Lord proved He is not Divine. Because our hands are dirty, the whole body is not polluted. The scandals of the Mystical Body the Church no more destroy its substantial holiness than the Crucifixion destroyed the substantial wholeness of Christ’s Physical Body. The Old Testament prophecy fulfilled on Calvary was that not a bone of His Body would be broken. His flesh would hang like purple rags about Him, wounds like poor dumb mouths would speak their pain with blood, pierced hands and feet would open up torrents of redemptive life – but His substance, his bones, they would be sound. So with His Mystical Body. Not a bone of it shall ever be broken; the substance of Her doctrines will always be pure, though the flesh of some of her doctors fail; the substance of Her discipline will be sound, though the passion of some of her disciples rebel; the substance of Her faith will always be Divine though the flesh of some of her faithful will be so carnal. Her wounds will never be mortal, for Her Soul is Holy and Immortal, with the Immortality of Love Divine that came to Her Body on the Day of Pentecost as tongues of living fire.

Coming to one of the major scandals, let it be asked: “How could a wicked man like Alexander VI be the infallible Vicar of Christ and head of His Mystical Body the Church?” For an answer, go to the Gospel text where Our Lord changes the name of Simon to Rock, and then made Him the Rock on which He built what He called “My Church.” Our Lord on that very occasion made a distinction very few ever think of: He distinguished between infallibility or immunity from error, and impeccability or immunity from sin. Infallibility is inability to teach what is wrong; impeccability is inability to do wrong. Our Lord made the Rock infallible, but not impeccable.

Immediately after assuring Peter that he had the keys of Heaven and authority to bind and loose, Our Blessed Lord tells His Apostles that He “must go up to Jerusalem,” and “must be put to death” (Matthew 16:21). Poor, weak, human Peter, proud of his authority as the Rock draws Our Lord to his side, and begins rebuking Him, saying: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to You” (Matthew 16:22). On hearing these words Our Lord “turned around and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle to Me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23).

A moment before Peter was called the Rock; now he is called Satan! In so many words Our Lord was telling him: “As a Rock upon which I build My Church, whenever you speak with the assistance of Heaven, you shall be preserved from error; but as Simon, son of Jonah, as a man, you are so frail, so carnal, so apt to be sinful, that you can become even like unto Satan. In your office you, as Peter, are infallible; but as man, Simon, you are peccable. The Power you have as Peter is My Making; the want of morals you have as Simon, is of your making.” Is this distinction between a person and his function hard to grasp? If a policeman directing traffic held up his hand and ordered you to stop, you would do so, even though you knew he beat his wife. And why? Because you make a distinction between his function as a representative of law and his person. I am sure that Our Lord permitted the fall of Peter immediately after the gift of Primacy to remind him and all his successors that infallibility would belong necessarily to his office, but virtue would have to be acquired by his own striving with the help of God’s grace. Whether the voice be sweet, or dull and grating, whether it be spoken with an accent or a flaw in grammar, we consider not the tone but the message. “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (I Samuel 3:9).

It is generally safe to say that those who know everything about the few bad successors of Peter, know nothing at all about the very many good ones. The wickedness of one man in authority is allowed to obscure a million saints. How many who dwell on the Vicars of Christ during the brief period of the Renaissance, ever dwell on their history for the other 1900 years? How many of those who exploit the bad few ever admit that of the first thirty-three successors of Peter, thirty were martyrs for their Faith, and the other three exiled for it? How many of those who concentrate on the bad example of a few know, or ever admit, that of the two hundred and sixty-one successors of St. Peter, eighty-three have been canonized for their heroic virtue, and that over fifty were chosen over the protest of their own unworthiness for such a high office, and that few can match in humility, wisdom and learning our present Holy Father, Pius XII? Anyone who attacks such a long line of martyrs, saints, and scholars must be certain of his own sinlessness to lay his hand on the few who revealed the human side of their office. If the revilers themselves are holy, pure and undefiled, let them pick up their stones. Our Lord said that it is the privilege only of those who are without sin to cast the first stone. But if they are not without sin, then let them leave the judgment to God. If they are without sin, they belong to a different race from you and me, for from deep down in our hearts a cry comes to our lips: “Be merciful to me a sinner.”

Turning to the scandal of bad Catholics, it must be remembered that Our Lord no more expected to have every member of His Church perfect than He expected to have perfect Apostles. That is why He said that on the last day He would throw the bad fish out of His net. Some Catholics may be bad, but that does not prove the Mystical Body is wicked, any more than because a few Americans who sell themselves to Russia, proves that America is a race of traitors. Our Faith increases responsibility, but it does not force obedience; it increases blame but it does not prevent sin. If some Catholics are bad, it is not because they are members of Christ’s Mystical Body, but rather because they are not living up to its Lights and Grace.

The psychology of those who are scandalized as bad Catholics is interesting. It means that they expected something better; if people who themselves are wicked, rejoice in the scandal, it is because they think they have greater authority for sinning than anyone else who fell. One never hears it said: “He is a bad Relativist,” or he is a “scandalous Humanist” or an “adulterous Ethicist,” because they never really expected anything better from them in the beginning. The horror that one feels at those who fall, is the measure of the height of virtue to which they expected to stand. We are grateful for the compliment of their being scandalized at our weak members, and for being intolerant with us about the very things they tolerate in others. They know that there are no other new lights possible if the sun fails! It is intellectually stultifying and morally easy to be a Communist; it is intellectually refreshing and morally hard to be a Catholic.

No ideal is more difficult of attainment. When anyone falls away from a Sun Cult he never has very far to tumble. But when a Catholic falls away, he is apt to be far worse than anyone else. The greater the height from which he falls, the greater the splash. “The corruption of the best is the worst.” No flowers smell worse than the rotted lily.

May we ask those who are scandalized with the failings of the Church, how perfect the Church would have to be before they would become incorporated into it as a living cell? If it were as perfect as they wanted it to be, do they realize that there would be no room for them? Just suppose for a moment, that Christ’s Mystical Body had no moral weaknesses; suppose that no monk ever broke his priestly vows to marry a nun and start a new religion – and this really happened; suppose that no bishop was ever just a business administrator and no priest ever disedifying and no monk ever fat, and no sister ever cross to children, and sanctity was as automatic as a parking meter; and suppose no one ever gave scandal to those who are on the outside to justify the way they were living. Would such a Church be the kind that Our Lord envisaged Who told us that cockle would be sowed with wheat, and that some of the children of the Kingdom would be cast out? If the Mystical Body were as perfect as the scandalized would have it, would not Her very perfection accuse and condemn us who are not saintly? Too high an ideal often repels rather than attracts. She would be so saintly that She would no longer allure ordinary mortals. She might even appear to the struggling souls as terribly Puritan, easily scandalized at our failings, and might even shrink from having Her garments touched by sinners like ourselves. Gone then would be the hope for those who are unholy or in sin. NO! The Mystical Body with none but perfect members would be a stumbling block. Then, instead of us being scandalized by Her, She would be scandalized by us, which would be far worse.

If the life of the Mystical Body had been one triumphant, blazing transfiguration on a mountain top, apart from the woes and ills of man, She would never have been the comforter of the afflicted and the refuge of sinners. She has been called like Her Divine Head, to be a redemptress, lifting men from the shadows of sin to be the tabernacles of grace where saints are made. She is not a far-off, abstract idea, but a Mother, and though She has been stained with dust in Her long journey through the centuries, and though some of her children have nailed Her Body and saddened Her Soul, yet there is joy in her Heart because of the children She has nourished; there is gladness in Her eyes, because of the faith She has preserved; there is understanding in Her soul, for She has understood the frailty of our flesh, and knows how to nourish it back to life. And in these qualities one divines the reason why Our Lord chose, not a saintly man like John, but a weak, fallen man like Peter as His First Vicar, in order that through his weakness he, and the Church of which he is the head, might sympathize with the weakness of his brethren, be their apostle of mercy and, in the truest sense of the term, the vicar of the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, Who came not to save the just but me, a sinner.

Our Lord often punishes His Mystical Body from time to time, by permitting some of the members or cells of that Body to separate themselves from it, but He punishes them still more. On the whole the world is right! We Catholics are not all we ought to be! The world is the way it is, because we Catholics are the way we are. Our Lord said: “If salt loses its taste, what is there left to give taste to it?” (Matthew 5:13). It is not the world we have failed, but Christ, and in failing Christ, we failed the world. But we beg those of you who see our failings to remember how hard it is for us to be everything Our Lord wants us to be. It is so easy to be a Democrat or a Republican or a “Cosmic Unifier,” but it is very hard to be a Catholic! Judge us not by our failings, as you judge not art by the feeble scribbling of a child. Look rather to our artistic masterpieces: the saints, and there are countless armies of them in the world. We have hurt you by our failings, and we beg your pardon, but we hurt Our Dear Lord more, and we shall do penance.

There are many of you who are scandalized by us, who, if you had the same Infallible Truth to guide you, the same Divine Eucharist to nourish you daily, would be a thousand times better than we are. We ought to be better than we are. And here I touch on the only unhappiness that comes to us as Catholics, and believe me, it is very real! We are unhappy because we are not saints. Will you therefore pray for us? Thanks!

God love you!

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

Who are the Meek?

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

We have heard or read this word countless times in our lives but do we really understand what it is? In the Old Testament it is usually used regarding the poor, the humble and the afflicted. But that does not get completely to the heart of the meekness that Christ speaks of in the New Testament.

The Sermon on the Mount uses the word in Christ’s second example:Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.”[1] The word in the New Testament Greek is praus which expands the OT understanding to: that disposition of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good and therefore without disputing or resisting it. It is not unlike the virtue of long-suffering which allows us to bear patiently with ills knowing that God’s will is being done. There is the hope and understanding that God is accomplishing something for the Good though we cannot see it or understand it at the moment. So we bear with it patiently.

When I was younger I used to think of meekness as being humble but somehow construed to mean apathetic as well. So when Christ says to the Apostles that they should “learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart,”[2] it always made the words of Christ seem a bit too contrived or a bit prideful (though He is God with every right to boast of His virtues). Maybe that was just me. But it did strike me as being a bit different from the usual statements I was used to hearing from Christ.

However, when I look back to the Book of Wisdom I find the following: “Let us see then if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen to him, and we shall know what his end shall be. For if he be the true son of God, he will defend him, and will deliver him from the hands of his enemies. Let us examine him by outrages and tortures, that we may know his meekness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a most shameful death: for there shall be respect had unto him by his words.”[3]

Now that passage seems to foretell the meekness that our Lord was talking about. For He was going to His death on the cross without a whimper, without crying out for mercy or declaring His innocence for the crime He was sentenced. No, He went as meekly as a Lamb to the slaughter.[4]

Now this is not apathy. For if apathy were a virtue, this country in its present age would be a utopia overrun with saints. But meekness is not a virtue you find very much of in this country or in any developed country. It resides mostly in the Third World.

I wonder if we are too far along in our belief in Utilitarianism to ever find meekness as a positive virtue to be practiced. Perhaps, as we continue our slide into the ocean of oblivion which swallows our wealth, freedom and pride, leaving us with shackles and chains of debt to eat the scraps that our lords throw us, we can once again find that God will respect His promise and return the land to the meek.


[1] Matthew 5:4

[2] Matthew 11:29

[3] Wisdom 2:17-20

[4] Isaiah 53:7 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.