Tag Archives: Yom Kippur

Leviticus 23:

Feast Days / Festivals (Lev. 23):
Leviticus 23 deals with the Feast Days, Holy Days and the Festivals.  From the Holiness Code, we move to time itself is holy.  God’s calendar follows a liturgical cycle of holiness marked by Sabbaths and Feast Days, much like the Catholic liturgical calendar does today. The first is the Sabbath, the 7th day of the week when no work could be done.  A day of rest dedicated to the Lord.  There is no Near Eastern equivalent to the Sabbath in other cultures or religions.  It is unique to the Israelites.  Sabbath is originally in Genesis associated with God’s rest on the 7th day after creating everything.  Now, here in Moses it is also associated with deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. Israel is made a “new creation” and can now rest from its bondage and servitude in Egypt.  Next, Passover is the first Spring feast on the 14th of Nisan. Unleavened Bread is a 7-day festival associated with Passover, from 15th – 21st of Nisan.  First Fruits is a harvest festival from 16th of Nisan or the first Sunday after the Passover Sabbath.  Pentecost is the Grain Harvest Festival 7-weeks and one day (or, 50 days) after the First Fruits.  The First Fall Festival begins with Rosh HaShanah, or New Year’s Day.  This is the Feast of Trumpets or “Yom Teruah” on 1 Tishri.  This is followed by Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, on 10 Tishri.  The final Fall Festival is the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles (“Sukkot”).  This is the final fall harvest festival from 15-22 Tishri.  Many associate the Spring Feasts as prophetic announcements and fulfillments about Jesus’ First Coming, already fulfilled.  Similarly, the Fall Feasts are considered by many to be prophetic announcements of Jesus’ Second Coming, yet to be fulfilled.  Thus, the Passover was fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the Cross.  Unleavened Bread was fulfilled in the Eucharist and the Mass.  The Jewish Pentecost was fulfilled in the Christian Pentecost with the Holy Spirit and the beginnings of the Church.  The Fall Feasts will then be fulfilled the Feast of Trumpets (Jesus’ Second Coming), the Day of Atonement (Final Judgment), and Tabernacles (a new heaven and new earth into eternity).

Leviticus 16:

The Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur:
This is perhaps the most important chapter in Leviticus.  It is the most solemn day of the year in the Jewish calendar.  It is the only day mandated by Jewish law to fast.  The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is the “reset button” for the Jewish liturgical year.  Yom Kippur is the day to remove and destroy impurity for the nation for the year.  It is the reset button to get the Israelites back to square one in terms of ritual purity. This is the day to restore everyone and everything (people, priests and Tabernacle) to the original sanctification. It is the day when Yahweh allows the Israelites to, in effect, start over again.  This is the New Testament equivalent to the sacraments of Baptism and Reconciliation.  Once the Tabernacle was replaced by the Temple, and then later, the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, Yom Kippur morphed from ritual purification to the atonement of sins of the people. Yom Kippur became became associated with the forgiveness of sins rather than ritual purifications.  This is the only day of the year when someone could enter the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle.  In this case, is was the High Priest who could enter the Holy of Holies.  The blood of the sacrifice was applied to the people just as in the Theophany from Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19) to re-enact the Sinai Covenant (Ex. 24).  Yom Kippur was the yearly renewal of the Sinai Covenant.  The blood was applied to the people and sprinkled on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

God Appears in Human Form?:
On Yom Kippur, Yahweh would “ra’ah” or appear in a cloud over the Mercy Seat.  Other instances of this Hebrew word (Gen. 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; etc.) that God would appear in human form on the Mercy Seat; that is, the High Priest Aaron would see God in human form echoing each year the face to face meeting on Mt. Sinai in the Theophany.

Ark of the Covenant / the Mercy Seat / God’s Throne Room:
The Ark of the Covenant had two cherubim with folded wings that acted as God’s footstool.  This is the Mercy Seat or the Purging Seat where God dwelt with Israel in the Meeting Tent.  On Yom Kippur, the one day of the year when the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, he would sprinkle blood seven times on the Mercy Seat.  This was a means of expiation and purgation; originally for making Israel ritually pure, but later, for the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus’ blood and His Cross, of course, are the ultimate fulfillment of Yom Kippur and the Day of Atonement, and the forgiveness of sins. With God in, visible form, sitting on His throne seat, this, in fact, is a kind of “throne room scene” of God here on earth. The Throne-room of God from Heaven is now making an appearance on earth; “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Reset Button:
Once a year, God would remove all impurities from the Israelites, but later, it is seen as forgiving all sin.  It is the true “reset button” to make all things new.  Each year, no matter what happened, Israel could start over again on Yom Kippur.  The merciful God from His “Mercy Seat,” or “purgation seat”, forgives all of Israel’s sins.  Everything would be restored to its original condition. This is a “statute forever,” perhaps foreshadowing Baptism and Reconciliation (which continued it into the New Covenant times).  In Levitical terms, the Day of Atonement restored equilibrium to the Israel nation and made them new again in ritualistic purity and cleanliness.  [In Baptism, Christians are washed clean of original sin and made anew in the Blood of Christ, new creations; similarly, in Reconciliation, we are forgiven our sins, and made anew in the forgiveness of Christ.]

The Two Goats / Azazel and the Sacrifice Goat:
On Yom Kippur, two goats were chosen: one would be sacrificed, and one would be sent off into the wilderness bearing the sins of the nation, this is the Azazel goat.  The Azazel goat is where the notion of a “scapegoat” comes from, ie, the goat that bears the sins of someone else.  The first goat is a sin offering for the Lord and is slain.  The second goat, the Azazel goat, is an expiation, a purging of the impurities, or later, the sins, of the nation of Israel. The High Priest, the representative of the nation, laid his hands on the goat, a symbolic transfer of impurities and guilt, and then, the Azazel goat was sent off into the wilderness, presumably to its death.  The wilderness and the desert were the place of the demonic, wildness chaos, sin and death. It was the opposite of the Tabernacle, God’s place, the new Eden.  Everything outside the Tabernacle was wilderness, desert, chaos, sin, and death. [When Jesus is about to begin His ministry, He immediately heads out into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted by the devil.]  Here, the Azazel goat is banished into the desert to take away Israel’s impurities and sins from the camp of Yahweh and the nation.  The Azazel goat removes impurities out of the sacred space of the Temple into the place it belongs, the demonic geography of the wilderness.  The goat is the vehicle for the removal of those impurities.

Azazel:
As a matter of note, the term Azazel appears also in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q180), where Azazel is a demon; in fact, the leader of the fallen angels that sinned in Genesis 6:1-4 and 1 Enoch.  Thus, once a year, the High Priest would lay hands on the Azazel goat, and confess all the sins of the nation of Israel, symbolically transferring the sins of the nation to the Azazel goat.  The Azazel goat would then bear the sins (impurities) of Israel away from Yahweh’s sacred space of Israel and the Tabernacle, off into the godforsaken land of the desert wilderness.  The wilderness imagery is one of supernatural evil, non-holy ground; non-sacred space outside the Tabernacle.  It was a place spiritually sinister with forces of chaos and death, where the pagans offered sacrifice to goat-demons.  The Azazel goat would possibly be driven off a cliff too, in effect, the impurities and sins of the nation would never make it back.

Christianity and the Cross:
The first sacrificed goat would in the New Testament make Christians fit for God’s presence.  The second goat, the Azazel goat, would remove sins from Christians. In the New Testament, Christ fulfills the type of each goat.  Christ makes us fit to be in God’s presence, and removes sins from our lives.  Christ is the goat sacrificed for our sins on the Cross.  He is also the goat where our sins are laid upon His body and He bears them away from us. Christ becomes sin for us, by bearing our sins.  Azazel is the ultimate embodiment of evil, as the leader of the fallen angels/demons, who led the world astray.  This is reminiscent of Christ being foreshadowed by the bronze serpent raised upon the pole. The serpent (as the serpent from the Garden of Eden, who led mankind astray into Original Sin) was raised upon the pole, and all who looked upon it were healed.  Similarly, the demonic Azazel goat has the sins of the nation cast upon it.  It is Christ, who takes on sin for our sake, who is sacrificed and carried sin away from us.  This is the “suffering servant” of Isaiah, who is pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, and by His “stripes” we are made whole.  Christ’s atoning death on the Cross is the ultimate fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. The goats of the Day of Atonement are just prefigurements of the real atoning death of the Messiah, the Son of God, to come.  Jesus is the true, sacrificial atonement.  Good Friday is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which was just a prefigurement of the Cross. Jesus’ death on the Cross is the true “Reset Button” for all Christians and believers.  We are made new creations in Christ and His Cross. His sanctifying grace flowed forth as blood and water from His side, and perpetuated in perpetuity in through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

Exodus 35-40:

Building of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
Moses tells the Israelites this is what the Lord has commanded: “Take up among you a collection for the Lord. Everyone, as his heart prompts him, shall bring a contribution to the Lord. . ”  Thus, all the materials for the Tabernacle were gathered from donations from among the people.  God also calls expert artisans (Bezalel and Oholiab, etc. ) to work on the construction of the Meeting Tent.  Once the Tabernacle “mishkhan” is later consecrated and sanctified, it is no longer referred to as the Tabernacle, but now, the “Tent of Meeting” or “Meeting Tent.”  God will now dwell with His people, meet and have fellowship with them.  The people brought so many contributions that they had more than enough and Moses had to tell them to stop bringing contributions.  Yahweh dictates to Moses all of the specific materials and dimensions for the construction of the Tabernacle.  It is a heavenly blueprint that images the Tabernacle from Heaven.  “The veil was woven of violet, purple, and scarlet yarn, and of fine linen twined, with cherubim embroidered on it.” This is the veil in front of the Holy of Holies that is later torn when Jesus dies on the Cross.  The inner sanctum of the Holy of Holies of Yahweh is made accessible to all peoples through the death of Christ.  For now, the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat of Yahweh will lay hidden behind the veil in the Sacred Space of the Meeting Tent. The other Sacred objects, such as the Ark, the Table, the Altar of Incense, are often made of “acacia wood” and covered in gold, signifying Christ and the Incarnation.  The Altar of Holocausts is made with acacia wood and plated in bronze.  The Courtyard also has the bronze laver for washing.  As one enters the Tabernacle they proceed from “bronze” objects into objects covered with gold to “pure gold” as sanctity and Sacredness increases deeper into the Tabernacle.

The Meaning of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting:
The Tabernacle will be a “new Eden,” where God will once again dwell with His people in a Sacred Space.  The Edenic Outpost of the Tabernacle will be an outpost of sanctity and holiness in a sea of chaos, desert, and wilderness.  The Cherubim on the Tabernacle harken to this idea of the Cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden.  The Menorah in the Tabernacle harkens to the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden too.  The same colors decorate the veils and curtains: violet, purple, scarlet, and white. Different materials (gold, bronze, wood) show varying gradations of sanctity and holiness in the Tabernacle. The deeper one goes into the Tabernacle the deeper one goes into holiness and Sacred Space.  Only the High Priest can go behind the Veil to the Mercy Seat and Ark of the Covenant (the footstool of God) once a year on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”).  This is the most holy place in the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle.  There are varying zones and gradations of Sacred Space around the Holy of Holies.  They also have varying degrees of Sacred objects and priests of varying Sacred Status that can access varying zones of the Sacred Space at specific Sacred Times (Feasts, Festivals, Sabbaths), all governed by specific policies and procedures dictated by God.  Yahweh is distinct from us.  There is an “otherness” to Yahweh.  Being in the very presence of God is dangerous.  Hence, breaking any of these rules or regulations or procedures can, and would, very likely lead to someone’s death.  One must be “whole” and sanctified and consecrated to enter the Tabernacle, and only at the proscribed times and with the proscribed actions.  Anything else risks the ritual purity of the Sacred Space and the presence of God leaving, and quite possibly the life of the offending person.   Ritual purity is crucial to maintaining the Sacred Space of the Tabernacle / Tent of Meeting.  This has nothing to do with immorality or sins, but is about “ritual purity” and being able to access the Holy Place of God.  To maintain this relationship and fellowship with God, one must follow God’s rules, be obedient to His requirements for the Covenant.  Then, God will bless the people and dwell with them.  Breaking the rules, will result in God cursing them, and leaving His people (as happens later in Israel’s history).  For now, it is all about re-establishing this “outpost of Eden” in the midst of the Israelites and progressing on God’s mission to sanctify His “firstborn son” of Israel.  This plan will lead Israel to proclaim Yahweh to the nations, drawing the Gentiles back into Covenant with God.  This is fulfilled obviously with the coming of Jesus, the Gospel and the New Testament.  The Tabernacle at Mt. Sinai, however, is the first step.   The Trinity also lay hidden in the Tabernacle from the Courtyard (which is Christ) to the Holy Place with the tongues of fire Menorah (which is the Holy Spirit) to the Holy of Holies (which is God the Father).  The three zones in one Tabernacle reveal the three persons of the Trinity of the one God.

Priestly Vestments:
The priests and High Priests vestments are similarly described with similar colors and materials.  Violet, purple, and scarlet yarn and “fine linen.”  Gold is threaded into the Ephod.  The names of the twelve tribes are also inscribed into it.  The breastpiece is filled with four rows of precious stones, twelve in all, matching the twelve tribes of Israel. The High Priest is the representative of all of Israel.  He is the intercessor and mediator before God for his people Israel.  He alone can enter the Holy of Holies once a year.  He has consecrated Sacred Status, who can enter the Sacred Space, on a specific Sacred Time, and perform Sacred Actions. Bells of pure gold are sewn into the bottom of the garment.  Later, Jewish tradition holds that the bells are there partially to know when the High Priest is performing the priestly actions in the Holy of Holies, and if he is struck down by Yahweh for making a mistake, then they would know. Supposedly a rope was tied around his ankle too so they can drag him out if he dies while in the Holy of Holies, since no one else could enter there within.  As the High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement one can imagine the bells ringing, just as the bell rings three times at the consecration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass.   The other priests also wear “tunics of fine linen” just as Jesus wore a seamless tunic as He was brought to the Cross and crucifixion.  Jesus sacrifices Himself as both priest and victim.  The plate of gold on the head that says “Holy to the Lord.”

Tabernacle Completed:
“Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished; and the people of Israel had done according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses; so had they done.” (Ex. 39:32)  Then, they brought everything they had made and presented it to Moses.  “And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. And Moses blessed them.” (Ex. 39:43)  Then, the Lord has Moses anoint and consecrate everything to Him to make it holy:  “Then you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it, and consecrate it and all its furniture; and it shall become holy.  10 You shall also anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and consecrate the altar; and the altar shall be most holy.  source site 11 You shall also anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it.  buy Maxalt c o d 12 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water,  13 and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate him, that he may serve me as priest.” (Ex. 40:9-13)  After they had did all that Yahweh commanded, the Tabernacle was finally erected, consecrated, and finished, just as God had instructed. “So Moses finished the work.” (Ex. 40:33)

The Glory Cloud of the Lord Fills the Tabernacle:
Now, God dwells again with His people, just like again at Eden.  The microcosm of Eden is complete.  The Restoration has begun, first with Israel.  Yahweh leads His people Israel, and Israel has fellowship with their God.  “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” (Ex. 40:34-38) Thus, ends the book of Exodus, the Lord stays with the camp of the Israelites throughout their wanderings in the wilderness.

Jesus and the Fulfillment of the Jewish Fall Feasts – October 18, 2016

“Spiritually we are all Semites.” Thus spoke Pope Pius XI on the eve of World War II, as Nazi Germany was about to launch its fateful war and Final Solution against the Jewish people. His words of solidarity are, of course, manifestly true. Christianity grew directly out of Judaism. Jesus was an observant Jew. The scriptures, the beliefs, and the rituals are all intertwined and interconnected between old and new. It is for this reason that St. Augustine can say, “the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.” (CCC 129) Christian theologians refer to this biblical prefiguring and foreshadowing as typology. There is a unity in the divine plan linking the progressive stages of salvation history. The Old Testament, in its symbols and rituals, point to the Messiah, while the New Testament fulfills all of these in the person of Jesus Christ. In speaking of the law and the prophets, Jesus Himself said plainly, “I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Mt. 5:17)

This typology is evident in the Jewish memorial feast days. They are generally broken up into two seasons, the spring feasts and the fall feasts. They anticipated and foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the Last Supper, the Eucharist, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The feasts prepared Israel for the Incarnation. God obligated centuries of faithful observance of these feasts to place the seeds of understanding in the minds of Israel to prepare them to accept the Son of God when He finally was born into the world. While we as Christians no longer celebrate these Jewish feasts, they are still part of our common Judeo-Christian lineage. Jesus chose these major Jewish feasts to fulfill the central parts of His mission. As the catechism teaches, “His public ministry itself was patterned by His pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.” (CCC 583) Jesus was formed by the feasts, and in fact, the central events of His life gave ultimate meaning to the feasts. (CCC 592)

The primary focus of the Jewish feasts was to prefigure the coming of Jesus. This is true of the fall feasts of Yom Kippur and Sukkot (Oct. 16-23rd this year). Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is primarily a prefiguring of Calvary. One of the most important aspects of Yom Kippur is the idea of the scapegoat. This is the one and only time of the year when the high priest would go behind the veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, dare to utter the name of God, the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, and offer the sacrifice of two goats. Upon one goat, the high priest placed his hands while confessing all the sins of Israel, symbolically conferring the sin to the goat. It was then sent off into the wilderness to die. The other goat was sacrificed, and the high priest sprinkled its blood upon the mercy seat in the Holy Holies. The high priest then came out and announced, “It is done.” This has clear similarities with the paschal lamb, and again, a foreshadowing of Christ and His last words from the Cross “It is finished.” (Jn. 19:30)

Calvary, of course, was sacramentalized in the Last Supper. The Mass became the feast of the new and eternal covenant. Just as the high priest entered the Temple and offered the sacrifice of goats, so too, does Christ enter the heavenly sanctuary and offer the sacrifice of Himself to the Father on behalf of our sins. The high priest of Yom Kippur is a ‘type’ of the true and eternal high priest of Christ in heaven. Christ Himself is both the high priest and the sacrifice. As the letter to the Hebrews states, “He entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Heb. 9:12) If God accepted Israel’s sacrifice of goats, as mere symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, how much more efficacious is the actual sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood? The Day of Atonement finds its ultimate meaning in Calvary, and each Mass is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

In this regard, Jewish tradition documents a miraculous event pertaining to Yom Kippur. In both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, they record that there was a scarlet cloth or strap tied to the scapegoat on Yom Kippur, as part of the sin offering. A thread from the crimson cloth was later tied to the Temple door. According to the Talmudic anecdote, every year when the goat was sacrificed, the thread would miraculously turn white, in recognition of God accepting their sin offering. One is reminded of Isaiah’s scripture “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Is. 1:18) Yet, as recorded in both Talmuds, this stopped happening some forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. This would have been about the time of Jesus’ crucifixion in 30 A.D. The scapegoat was no longer accepted in atonement for sin, but was superseded now by the sacrifice of Christ.

In contrast to Yom Kippur, the last fall feast is a little bit different. It is the joyous feast of Tabernacles, also known as the feast of Booths, or simply, Sukkot. Sukkot is the road map for the Church. It is ironic to call Sukkot a road map because it commemorates when the Israelites wandered seemingly aimlessly through the desert for forty years! But, their wanderings are representative of our wanderings as pilgrims on this earth. Just as the Israelites crossed the waters of the Red Sea and the evil Pharaoh was killed, so too, do we pass into new life through the waters of Baptism and sin is removed. Yet, the Israelites did not immediately make it to the Promised Land. Rather, they traveled in the desert wilderness for forty years with God leading them, who as “the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” (Ex. 13:22) For forty years, God sustained them in the desert. Sukkot is a roadmap because it reveals God’s plan to sustain us.

It is in this intermediary period that we find ourselves today, as travelers in the desert wilderness of life. Sukkot reveals that we must stay close to God, and be fed with the supernatural manna from heaven, and the water of the rock. The Israelites ate manna from heaven each day. As Moses said of the manna on the morning dew, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” (Ex. 16:15) This immediately reminds us of Jesus’ discourse on the Bread of Life. The Pharisees demanded a sign from Jesus, citing the miraculous manna from heaven story, but He answered them saying, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (Jn. 6:35) Jesus reveals that He is the new manna from heaven, the Eucharist, which sustains us until we reach the eternal Promised Land.

God also quenched the thirst of the Israelites with the water from the rock. Sukkot commemorates Moses striking the rock in the desert and water coming out for the Israelites to drink. St. Paul tells us this rock and water was Christ. He says, “For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4) In the time of the Temple, the priests would make a procession to the Pool of Siloam and draw water out with a golden pitcher. The high priest would then pour the water out on the altar in the Temple while reciting the verse from Isaiah, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is. 12:3) This was to celebrate the days of the Messiah when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all of Israel.

It was at the climax of the feast of Booths, on the eighth day, Shemini Atzeret, that scripture declares, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” (Jn. 7:37-38) Jesus is telling them that He is the living water that is symbolized in this Temple ceremony. The living water is the Holy Spirit, and the sanctifying grace in faith and the sacraments, particularly the waters of Baptism. This is also reminiscent of Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well. He tells her, “the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14) The Holy Spirit and the sacraments are the fulfillment of the water ceremony in the feast of Booths. This is our spiritual water from the rock, to sustain us in this age of the Church, from Christ’s first coming to His second coming.

Sukkot also has a deeper eschatological meaning to it. During the exodus, the Israelites had no permanent abodes. So, during Sukkot, the Jews commemorated this by building temporary “booths” or “huts” outside their house, and covering them with leafy branches or palms. The roofs were not supposed to be perfect but have openings, so they could view the stars at night. This again is allegory to us. Our lives are also imperfect, but in much the same way, we can look up to heaven and yearn for our permanent home with God. Scripture reminds us that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth… seeking a homeland.” (Heb. 11:13-14) It is perhaps fitting, then, that Jesus likely chose the feast of Booths to reveal His glory to the Apostles in His Transfiguration. (see Mt. 17:4) The Transfiguration gives us a glimpse and hope of the glory of God to come.

Thus, the Jewish feasts were a foreshadowing of Christ, and Christ fulfilled them with His life. They point to eternal truths of God and the Incarnation. The signs and symbols of the feasts were fulfilled in reality with the coming of Jesus the Messiah and the foundation of His Church. We no longer anticipate the coming of the final sacrifice in the paschal lamb or the scapegoat or the pouring out of water in the Temple. The Temple itself is no longer necessary, because we ourselves have become the temple of God. The Jewish feasts have been superseded by the sacramental reality. However, the feasts are still metaphorical roadmaps for us. We are to survive on the food God provides in the Eucharist and the water God provides with the Holy Spirit and the sacraments. We continue to learn the faith now through the celebration of the Catholic liturgical calendar, with its sets of feasts, and festivals and fasts. The primordial feast remains the Sabbath, or to Christians, the Lord’s Day, Sunday. It is the day set aside each week for rest and worship offered to God. The Mass is the foundational liturgical celebration of the Church. It anticipates the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. This is our manna from heaven and our life giving water. Indeed, if but we believe, the sacramental life of the Church will sustain us, through our temporary wandering in this desert wilderness, to eternal life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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