April 2009 letter
Soon, we will start the Holy Week with all its beautiful deep hymns and rites. In an attempt to come close to understanding the events of this week let us go over what we learned in our study of the book of Leviticus concerning the sacrifices of the Old Testament.
There were several types of sacrifices in the Old Testament, as no one sacrifice could come close enough to symbolizing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ from all aspects, each type of sacrifice symbolized a side of the cross. Sin had two consequences: God was saddened by it, and death of man. Therefore we find of the types of sacrifices:
v Burnt offerings: the animal is slaughtered and put on fire till it becomes ashes, the priest does not eat from it nor the person who offered it nor any human, just burnt for God. So the burnt offering was not to save the person but to please God’s heart.
v Offerings of sin and trespass: this is to replace the person and saves him from death.
General rules of offerings:
v A male animal; symbolizing Jesus Christ.
v Without any deformity either congenital or by injury, the priest had to examine the offering even after it was slaughtered to confirm that it is in perfect condition even internally.
v One of the pure animals that were allowed to be eaten, as Jesus presented Himself so that we can eat Him “he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (John 6: 57).
v To be of the animals and not human as some cults that allowed killing and offering humans. The animals do not sin, but can carry the sin; as St John the Baptist said: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1: 29).
May our good God who accepted the pain through His own will and was crucified for us bless us with all spiritual blessings and help us enjoy these blessed days and keep us to enjoy his Resurrection many years to come.
For your reference, the schedule for the sermons for Passion Week is attached.
Asking you to remember the church, its priest, servants and all its services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary and St. Mercurius, and the blessings of these Holy days be with us always Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, April 1, 2009