Tag Archives: Eden

Leviticus 11-15:

follow site The Cleanliness Code:
Clean and Unclean is different from Holy and not Holy. Cleanliness is the measure of suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  Holiness is the measure of the presence of God itself.  Something can be “clean” and “common,” not necessarily “holy.”  If something is “unclean” then it is needs to be made “clean,” and then, it can be “holy.”  The state of cleanliness is the suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  To be “unclean” does not necessarily mean someone has sinned or committed immorality.  It is a ritual status, not a moral status.

source site The Food Laws:
At the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve were vegetarians.  After the Flood, God allows Noah to eat any kind of animal (except flesh with the blood in it – Gen. 9:3-4; “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Jesus supersedes this injunction with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist).  Now, here in the Mosaic epoch, God further restricts what animals are to be eaten and not eaten. The so-called “food laws” tells the Israelites what are “clean” animals that you can eat, and “unclean” animals that you cannot eat.  God then tells Moses which animals are clean and which are not clean.  The first category is the ruminants, or beasts of the field, such as cows and sheep. There are three conditions to eat of a ruminant.  Those are: it has hooves, it is cloven-footed, and it chews cud.  If it does not meet all three requirements, then it is unclean.  Unclean ruminants include: the camel, the badger, the hare, the pig (which is one of the most well-known and most identifiable “non-kosher” Jewish foods, ie, no pork or pork products).  One of the archeological indicators of Israelite settlements was the distinct lack of swine or pig bones found. Then come the water animals, which must have fins and scales to be clean.  Any water creatures that lack fins and scales are deemed unclean and they may not eat them (“is loathsome for you”).  Next, are the birds and creatures of the air.  Basically, the birds of prey that eat dead flesh are considered unclean, such as the eagle, vulture, osprey, crows, gulls, hawks, owls, buzzards, storks, and bats, etc.  Next, are the unclean flying insects, only the grasshopper, locust or cricket is acceptable.  John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and ate locusts (Mt. 3:4)  Finally, “all creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten.” (Lev. 11:41)

generic cytotec no prescription Why Food Laws?:
There are five or six main explanations for the food laws. None are comprehensive or totally persuasive in and of themselves.  It is probably a combination of these reasons that God issues the food laws.  (1) Hygenic theory.  This is theory that these unlcean animals are bad for humans and not healthy, such as pork for spreading trichinosis.  This theory is popular today, although is probably not very consistent.  Every species if not properly cooked could contain parasites.  (2) The Aesthetic theory: the animals are unclean because they’re repugnant to humans.  By way of analogy, if it is repugnant to humans it is probably repugnant to their deity. If it can be sacrificed and offered on our table, it can probably be offered to the deity.  If it is not on our table, then it cannot be food for God either.  (3) Ethical theory: God restricted eating animals as a means for the Israelites to grow in self-control and limit their violence and shedding of blood. (4) Anatomical theory: This suggests that these animals represent “anomalies” within their species.  They’re misfits, and as outliers, they are unclean.  Any animals that lack the specifications of their category or are a “mixing” of categories or species are deemed unclean.  (5) Cultural theory: There is a cultural aspect to this as well.  The Israelites are culturally, as a people in a particular place and time, repulsed by certain animals and practices.  This is incorporated into some of their food laws.

(6) Cultic or Liturgical theory:
This is probably the most persuasive and logical of all the explanations.  Animals deemed unclean were associated with pagan rituals and sacrifices.  They were prominent in pagan cults and the most common animals sacrificed in pagan rituals (ie, the pig in Canaanite sacrifices). Thus, a prohibition of killing and sacrificing certain animals would be a means to separate Israel out from the surrounding pagan populations.  A way of being “set apart” and holy, as much of Leviticus is concerned about the distinctiveness of Yahweh and His people, the Israelites.  On the other hand, acceptable animals to sacrifice, such as the bull and the ram, are representation of Egyptian gods like the bull-god Apis and the cow-god Hathor.  Yahweh commanding the Israelites to sacrifice bulls and rams is a means to distance the Israelites from the pagan idolatry that they were immersed in for 400 years in Egypt.  It is an attempt to de-Egyptianize the Israelites.  In a broader sense, it is an attempt to de-Canaanize and de-paganize the Israelites through regular, and daily, sacrifice of pagan-gods.  Similar prohibitions found in Leviticus against offering honey, and boiling a kid in his mother’s milk, ritual shavings and mutilations were all about distancing the Israelites from pagan practices.  The food laws are another aspect of being distinctive, set apart, and holy.

Ritual Purity and Impurity:
Ritual purity is not about sin.  It is about fitness to occupy sacred space.  A sin offering is about “decontamination” or “purification,” not sin.  A guilt offering is about making reparation.  For example, Mary making an offering after the birth of Jesus is not about sin, but about becoming ritually pure.  Something or someone becoming ritually impure has to do with (1) coming into contact with death; or (2) a loss of “life.”  These issues stem around: childbirth, leprosy, emission of semen, menstruation, and marital intercourse (loss of semen).  These focus on the loss of “life fluids,” such as blood, water and semen.  These are fluids that produce life.  To lose life, is to be less than “whole.”  God did not make us originally to not be whole, but to be whole and complete.  God is wholeness and completeness.  Thus, if someone loses their life fluid by one means or another, that renders them not whole, or in Levitical terms, ritually unclean, impure.  Sexual activity and the loss of bodily fluids then renders one ritually impure.  Having a baby, or menstruation and the loss of blood, also renders one ritually impure. This is not about sin, but about fitness for sacred space.  Anything outside of the “normative, creation natural order” renders one ritually impure.  A person must be “whole” to enter into the perfection of the sacred space of the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is the new Eden.  It is the perfection that God originally intended in the Garden of Eden.  It is God’s dwelling place.  God is perfection, and wholeness, and life itself.  For one to enter His space, one must be whole and in an “ideal form” of wholeness and completeness.  To have lost “life” fluids or to have touched death, is to be less than fully whole and fully full of life, or in a word, imperfect.

Skin Diseases:
Skin diseases and leprosy also render an individual ritually impure and unfit to enter the sacred space of the Tabernacle. General skin ailments, not just Hansen’s disease (ie, leprosy), renders one ritually impure. There is no sin in skin disease, but one is not “whole,” as God had originally designed humanity. Something in the body is amiss. It is not as the original creation order. God is not admonishing against any particular sin, but teaching an object lesson about the perfection of God. The Tabernacle is the new Garden of Eden; a place of perfection, and a place for man to be like God had originally intended; whole and complete; full of life, not death.

Cedar Wood, Scarlet Yarn, and Hyssop:
Leviticus repeatedly tells the Israelites to purify people and places by using “cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop.”  This purification and atonement is reminiscent of the wood of the Cross; scarlet yarn hearkens to red blood of Christ; and the hyssop branch that they used to annoint the Passover lamb’s blood to the door and the hyssop branch to give Jesus a taste of the “4th cup” of wine, or vinegar, on the Cross before He died.  In short, these have connotations of Jesus’ Cross.  We are made clean through the Cross of Christ.

God is Distinct, Set Apart, Holy:
Through the purity laws, God is reminded His people that He is perfect and holy.  He is set apart, distinct.  In contrast, humanity is imperfect.  God is wholeness, completeness, perfection, and life itself.  The ritual purity reminds humanity of reverence to creation-order, and reverence for life itself.  We are less than perfect, but should reverence the normative life as designed by the Creator.  The Tabernacle is not a place for incompleteness, death, less than ideal form or imperfection.  It is a place for the otherness of Yahweh. Man can prove his loyalty to Yahweh by adhering to His ritual purity regulations.  God comes to dwell with man again in the new perfect location of the Tabernacle, the new Eden.

The Woman and the Two – 27 March 2018

There has been a lot of discussion recently about women, from the “Weinstein Effect” to #MeToo. Misogyny in our culture is on notice, and the idea of womanhood has come to the forefront. In many respects, we have never before seen a moment like this focused on the dignity of women.

Perhaps it is time the modern world should look towards an older idea of womanhood, that which permeates our Catholic faith.

From the very beginning of scripture to the very end we find ‘the woman.’ Christians often quote lines from the Old Testament and the prophets regarding the Savior to come. This is all true, but it is not the whole story. The prophetic announcements tell of two intertwined together on behalf of our salvation. In the first moments in Genesis after the fall, God declares to the wicked serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.”

There is some dispute how to best translate the next line in the passage, specifically if it should be “he” and “his” or “she” and “her.” But, St. Jerome in translating this from the ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin texts chose to translate it as “she” and “her” as the most accurate. The Douay-Rheims translation based on the Latin Vulgate into English renders it “she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” This was reaffirmed by other Church Fathers and in Ineffabilis Deus on the Immaculate Conception as “unmistakable evidence that she crushed the poisonous head of the serpent.”

The effect is the same. The woman through her seed shall crush the head of the serpent. That is, the Virgin Mary through Jesus Christ shall crush the head of Satan. Jesus is the divine Redeemer, and Mary the creature, but the two together crush Satan, and bring hope of eternal life. This is downplayed in our protestantized modern Christianity. The prophet Isaiah talks of the two as well, a virgin who will bear a son. The fall came at the hands of two, and in God’s beautiful symmetry, the restoration also comes at the hands of two.

The Virgin Mary is the masterpiece of God’s creation. She is conceived without sin, the sanctifying grace of her Son applied to her by way of anticipation, but to the rest of humanity by deliverance. She is unique in all of creation. Mary told St. Bernadette at Lourdes “I am the Immaculate Conception.” In the heavenly vision to St. Catherine Laboure at Rue du Bac, later forged into the miraculous medal, Mary is standing on the head of the serpent, seemingly answering the question of pronouns in the protoevangelium.

We find ‘the woman’ again at a wedding feast in Cana. The two together, Jesus and Mary, co-launch Jesus’ first miracle and his public ministry. When the wedding party ran out of wine, Mary looks knowingly at Jesus saying, “They have no wine.” In that one short sublime sentence Mary asks Jesus to perform his first open miracle, and begin his public work of salvation. This is Mary’s first act of motherly mediation too for her spiritual children. Jesus knows what she is asking but answers, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” He addresses his mother as the archetype ‘woman’ acknowledging her prophetic role. Yet, Mary continues to direct the servants to “do whatever he tells you.” Jesus is the Son of God, he is in charge, but he defers out of respect and love for his mother.

At last, at the final stroke of the salvific drama, Jesus addresses ‘the woman,’ this time from the Cross, saying “woman, behold your son,” and to John, “behold your mother.” Mary, ‘the woman,’ became, by order of grace, the spiritual mother of all the living. And, Mary is still our mother. Is it any wonder that our Lady still comes to us at Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima to remind us over the centuries “do whatever he tells you”?

St. Louis de Montfort called the Incarnation the “greatest event in the whole history of the world.” It is ‘the woman’ who is central to the Annunciation, which leads to the Incarnation and the Redemption. At that critical moment, God sends the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and he greets her with the Angelic Salutation, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” and “blessed are you among women.” In ‘the woman,’ who alone is full of grace, the inherited link of sin is broken. The serpent can only lie in wait of her heel, and only enmity remains between them.

It was not until Mary’s fiat, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord,” that God became man. God made his Incarnation dependent upon the woman. This set in motion the whole drama of the Redemption. This greatest moment in the history of the world, the Incarnation, is memorialized in the prayer of the Rosary. Every time we pray the words of the Rosary, which are the words of the Angelic Salutation, we are greeting and honoring Mary again, just as the heavenly ambassador did. We are praying over and over again the words of the Incarnation. In it, we are reliving and honoring that unique theandric event, when the Word became flesh in the woman. In short, the Rosary is the Incarnation in prayer form.

‘The woman’ is at Eden; she is at Cana; and she is at Golgotha. And, ‘the woman’ appears again at the very end of time, with the great unveiling of the apocalypse, the final bookend to salvation history: “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Our spiritual Mother appears as Queen of heaven, offering intercession for her children even to the last moment.

St. Pope John Paul II highlights this in Redemptoris Mater. He declares that the Virgin Mary was “not only the ‘nursing mother’ of the Son of Man but also the ‘associate of unique nobility.'” One of the great modern errors is that Mary was just a human vessel to birth Jesus. Mary did provide Jesus with his physical flesh and blood, hence the profound link between the devotions to the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist. But, Mary’s maternal mediation was much more in the order of grace. She was, and is, a collaborator with her Son in the work of salvation, as the encyclical states: “Mary’s motherhood itself underwent a singular transformation” with “‘burning charity,’ which sought to achieve, in union with Christ, the restoration of ‘supernatural life to souls.'”

In this time of women, let us remember ‘the woman.’ The Virgin Mary is the fulfillment of that original dignity in our preternatural past. She offers us the example par excellence of holiness and virtue. Mary is the Theotokos, and based on that unique grace of who she is, her intercession for us is most efficacious. Through our devotion to her, she will crush the head of Satan in our lives. She is the Queen mediating on behalf of our salvation before the throne of the King.

This is why we pray: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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