Sunday, June 7, 2015

2015/06/07 - Corpus Christi - Inside Out

A couple of years ago, a young lady was talking to me about why she didnt become Catholic.  I mean - it seemed like the obvious next step to me she and her boyfriend came to Mass together quite often so whats the hold-up?  Her argument was simple, yet more profound than I had expected.  She had trouble with how we call the Mass a sacrifice.  Does that strike anybody HERE as odd?  No weve heard the words all our lives what we do here at Mass is called many things:  the Eucharist, the Lords Supper, the supper of the Lamb, you could call it a re-enactment of the Last supper even but her beef was when we called this the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Now to me, this shows that she had actually given this some thought and had come to the conclusion that this didnt make sense.  To her credit, her claim is not un-founded.  We read in scripture that Jesus died once for all which means no further sacrifices are needed!  Thats why we dont have the temple anymorewe dont NEED to continually kill lambs and goats and turtledoves on our altar.  Jesus sacrifice was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.  So where do we get off offering the sacrifice of the Mass all over the world every day? 

Well todays readings, I think, make this point about as clear as can be.  Were gonna have to do a little scripture study this morning to help everyone understand this so grab your missallette and turn to page 176:

Look at that first reading:  about half way through Moses sent some men to offer some sacrifices then look what he did with the blood:

Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his. 

“this is the blood of the covenant”…wow…that should sound pretty familiar to us.  Remember that, we’ll come right back to it.  Look specifically at what was going on…. Moses read the book of the covenant to the people… remind you of anything?  Isn’t that what we just did 3 minutes ago?!  Next he took the blood of the sacrifice and did what:  splashed half on the altar – and sprinkled the rest ON THE PEOPLE!  Think about that – imagine you’re in the congregation that day and they come around throwing blood all over the place.  If you’ve ever been near the end of the aisle when Fr. Eugene comes around with the holy water… just imagine if that was BLOOD he was sprinkling.  Seems really weird and maybe even gross to us now… but this was the BLOOD OF THE COVENANT – and the fact that you had the PHYSICAL BLOOD STAINS on your clothing was an outward sign to the world that YOU were in on the covenant – you and God were reconciled. 

Next – check out the second reading – even more deep imagery here:  He’s describing what the High Priest would do on the day of Atonement…. You ever heard of Yom Kippur?  That is the highest feast of the year for Jews – it was the only day of the year that the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies – that’s the inner chamber of the Temple where it was believed that God dwelt.  This was HIS home on earth.  [Other than that day – nobody could enter the Holy of Holies – in fact, they would tie a rope to the high priest just in case he would faint or something so they could pull him out – because NOBODY else was allowed in there.]  On the day of Atonement, the High Priest went in and offered a sacrifice for the whole nation.  Listen to this… he would kill the lamb… splash half the blood on the altar … and the other half he would – what?  Sprinkle on the people!  Sound familiar?  Every year, the High Priest would re-enact the sacrifice that Moses made way back at Mt. Sinai!  This was how they constantly re-atoned for the sins of the nation.  This is how they renewed the covenant with God.  Which covenant was that?  The same covenant that God made way back in Moses’ time. 

Now –knowing that background, perhaps the rest of that reading makes a bit more sense.  I’d love to re-read it all – but just check out that one long sentence:

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifers ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

Notice the blood of the first sacrifice, he says, cleansed our flesh but the blood of the new covenant cleanses our consciences.  Thats a big difference.  Like I said, that old covenant seemed to focus mainly on what the people DID the external observances of what God told them to do.  The new covenant is more of an INTERNAL change.  And for that reason, we come forward at communion not to have the blood sprinkled on our OUTSIDE but to DRINK the blood to take it into our own body so that we can be cleansed from the INSIDE OUT!

 This sacrifice of Jesus was the ultimate Day of Atonement.  He didnt just go into the Holy of Holies in the Temple he entered the ultimate Holy of Holies HEAVEN where God dwells.  And what did he do there?   Dont miss this He entered the holy of holies with the PERFECT sacrifice.  Not the blood of lambs or bulls but with his OWN BLOOD.  He achieved perfect atonement for us because HE HAS ENTERED HEAVEN AS THE PERFECT SACRIFICE AND REMAINS THERE He is both Human and Divine so for the first time, Humanity and Divinity are united in heaven. 

When Jesus said in the Gospel this is the blood of the covenant in the Gospel surely that means so much more to all of us now.  This is the sacrifice of atonement.  Offered once for all so the young lady was right we DONT have to continually sacrifice anymore.  What we do is RE-PRESENT the same sacrifice to God through our Mass.  Jesus does not die every time we come to the altar.  He becomes present in the Eucharist body, blood, soul, and divinity let me try to explain this:  Jesus is in heaven, right?  Well at the moment of consecration we believe that somehow we are united to heavenand Jesus, who is standing forever before God the Father as the perfect lamb, slain as atonement for the sins of the world is also present to us here on our altarand we offer this body and blood back to God as our weekly or daily atonement.  Bends our brains doesnt it??  We dont have to understand it just participate in communion in order to renew OUR side of the covenant.  The sign of that covenant is the Body and Blood that we take into ourselves.  We are changed inside out.

1 comment:

  1. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer