SACRIFICE: Moses — Painting By Numbers

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Moses - Painting By Numbers Julia Marks

Lent is all about taking steps.  One after the other.

Lent is only about taking steps.

He leads.  We follow.

Until we come to the edge.  Then he falls.  And we stay right where we are.

And at that moment it is not just our souls and our hearts that are plunged into darkness.

Not just our altars and our churches.

But it is the world, even the universe that no longer has his light to see by.

I write these posts because I am tired of living a life of clenching my fists hard and biting my lip whenever I hear someone say that Jesus Died For Me with the same kind of enthusiasm he might use if he just won a car on a game show.

Gosh!  Isn’t it great!  Look at what he did for me!

No.

Just, no.

Like Noah’s raven, Jesus was sent to Earth so that God could find a landing here with us.  To see if it was time.  If we were ready for him.

Like Isaac, Jesus became a literal sacrifice.  Unlike Isaac, there was no release from his offering himself to God.

He was accepted.  He was sacrificed.

I want to finish that concept of becoming a literal sacrifice for God before I go on to the topic relating to Moses.

In a sacrifice, the kind that the priests that surrounded Jesus committed, the sacrificial lamb is laid on the altar.

The priest, as he raises the knife to slaughter his victim, chants a line from the Psalms.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to thy name, O Most High.

Slowly, now.  Just follow this gently.

Jesus, like the sacrifices in his church, was being offered to God.

Jesus was the sacrificial offering.

The Roman Centurion was the priest who committed the sacrifice.

Jesus laid down before his enemy and offered himself up to become a gift from us to God.

Evil was the priest at God’s altar that day.

Evil.  Jesus.  God.

So when you are sitting at Mass, when you look up and see your priest busying himself around the altar.  Praying the prayers.  Gesturing as the rite dictates.

As he takes the wafers and the wine and consecrates them, he is stepping into the role of the Roman Centurion.

He is stepping into the act committed by Evil to honor God.

To fulfill God’s plan.

If you can see this, then say to yourself, It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to thy name, O Most High.

Amen.

And know that in that moment you are in the most holy place on Earth.

Because you know what is happening before you.

Sacrifice means to make sacred.  And it’s purpose is transformation.

To take an ordinary animal and make it something worthy to give to God.  But not only that.  When blood is spilt, it is transformed into something that preserves life.

Blood from a sacrificed dead animal is used to save living people.

God commanded Moses to use blood as a paint for his people’s doorways.  This blood protected the Israelites from Evil.

When Jesus’s blood was spilt, a transformation took place.

Evil was that which spilt the blood.

But then the blood of Jesus is transformed into that which will protect us from Evil.

So Evil creates that which will ultimately destroy it.

At Mass, we are painted by his protection-blood and fed by his body for our exodus, which begins when we turn from the altar and continue on with our lives.

The sacrifice of Jesus makes our churches very real respites, literal sanctuaries, from our daily battle with Evil.

We may not see it that way.  We may not be very conscious that week after week, our souls are being painted by the holy blood that God created through the sacrifice of his son.  That we are receiving a renewal of our bulwark.

And we are given the meal we will need to fortify ourselves in the battle.

Jesus’s steps to the cross were all about Evil.

Using Evil.  Binding Evil to the sacred rite.  And then transforming himself into what we will need to defeat Evil.

Be very careful of taking this lightly.

And begin to consider that your Easter bonnet is not just a fashion statement.  It is a symbol that we are under his protection.  And that we are the ones carrying the sacrificial meat and blood into the world every day.

That our acceptance of being the ones who face Evil under his protection allows others to come into that protection.

That his sacrifice is the beginning of our work in the world.  The work of saving it.

Of completing the transformation he began.

Amen.

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