October 2008 letter
The Old Testament as St. Paul teaches us “having a shadow of the good things to come” (Heb10: 1), and as we enjoy the study of the Book of Leviticus we see clearly that the sacrifices in the OT are a shadow of the Holy Cross.
Let us see how these sacrifices symbolize the Holy Cross:
1) The Burnt Sacrifice: these had to be completely burnt for God, as “a sweet aroma to the Lord” (Lev 1: 13) with no mention for sin, but aiming to please God. This sacrifice symbolize Christ who bore the Divine anger over sin and took the curse of the law, thus pleasing the heart of God and made a reconciliation between God and man through His blood.
2) The Grain Offering: this is a thanksgiving offering to the Lord, made of flour and its aim is to remind the people that their food comes from God and that is why their lives are from God. This sacrifice symbolizes the pure life of Jesus Christ on earth and all the pain He went through. He had “no deceit in His mouth” (Is 53: 9), righteous and Holy with no sin, as an example of a holy man that is created according to God’s image in righteousness and holiness.
3) Sacrifice of a Peace Offering: this has no mention of sin, it is a sacrifice of joy and it is the only sacrifice that the priest and the presenter in addition to his friends eat from. It is presented as a thanksgiving to God. This resembles the Eucharist, it is a symbol of communion between God and people.
4) Sacrifice of Sin and Trespass Offering: this is presented for sacrifice of sins that man makes by mistake or trespassing. This means that man is responsible for all his sins even those done without intention or by ignorance. These 2 sacrifices symbolize the Holy Cross as a sacrifice of all the sins of the whole world. that is why it is not offered and burnt on the same alter of the burnt sacrifice but outside the camp, as Jesus was sacrificed outside Jerusalem as St. Paul pointed: “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb 13: 13).
Therefore the Cross had to be pointed to in the Old Testament from different angles and symbols in order to fulfill all its meanings. We ask the Lord to open our interior eyes to understand the Old Testament in the light and grace of the New testament, in order to enjoy its meanings.
Asking you to keep the church, its priest, servants and all services, in your prayers. May the blessing of Saint Mary, and St. Mercurius Abou Sefein and all the saints be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, October 1, 2008