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The Holy Qurbono

Sacrifice in General

Sacrifice represents the foundational act of religion, signifying our acknowledgment of dependence on God and our longing for union with Him. It is our way of expressing this longing by presenting a gift to God, symbolising our readiness to offer ourselves. Additionally, due to the consequence of sin, sacrifice also carries an element of atonement.

Through sacrifice, we not only recognise our reliance on God as our creator but also admit our sinfulness and our need for God's forgiveness. This admission is symbolised by the offering of the gift, akin to the shedding of blood in the case of an animal sacrifice. When God accepts our sacrifice, it symbolises reconciliation, evident when we receive back our offering in communion, symbolising God's blessing upon us.

In essence, sacrifice is a religious act whereby humans, through the offering of a victim, turn towards God, their ultimate good, while renouncing sin, their ultimate evil. This act of offering, immolation, and subsequent communion signifies the believer's trust that God's acceptance of their sacrifice will secure the divine alliance they seek.

The Sacrifices of the Old Law

Sacrifices have been part of human practice since ancient times, as documented in the earliest records available. In the Bible, we encounter accounts of sacrifices by figures like Cain and Abel, Noah, and Melchizedek, all occurring before any specific divine revelation was given. Of particular note is Melchizedek's offering of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18), often interpreted as a prefiguration of the Eucharist. The Epistle to the Hebrews even applies the words of Psalm 110:4 to Christ, stating, 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek'.

Under the Old Law, a system of regular sacrifices was established, with the Passover sacrifice being the most significant. This sacrifice commemorated Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt and has been interpreted as a foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice as the Lamb of God, offering himself to free humanity from the bondage of sin. Additionally, the Prophet Malachi's words, 'From the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; and everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name and a pure offering' (Malachi 1:2), were understood by the Fathers of the Church as a prophecy of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

The Sacrifices of Christ

However, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, all these sacrifices were merely 'shadows of the good things to come' (Hebrews 10:1). They served their purpose for a time but ceased to be necessary once Christ died on the cross. Through his sacrifice on the cross, Christ fulfilled not only the sacrifices of the Old Law but also those of the Natural Law.

Christ's sacrifice inaugurated the New Covenant, fulfilling the ancient covenant God made with humanity and later with Israel. This covenant is now fulfilled in the covenant with the Church, often referred to as the New Israel. By offering himself as a sacrifice for all humanity and shedding his blood as atonement for the world's sins, Christ reconciled mankind with God, achieving the ultimate purpose of all sacrifice.

The sacrifice of the Cross reached its culmination with the Resurrection, symbolising God's acceptance of Christ's sacrifice. Through his death, Christ paid the ransom for humanity's sins, and through his resurrection, he bestowed upon humanity a new life in himself. Christ's sacrifice serves as both a model and a source of empowerment for believers. It symbolises the sacrifice all individuals must make and demonstrates supreme power, enabling believers to die with Christ to sin and rise with him to a new life.

The Sacrifices of The Eucharist

At the Last Supper, Christ our Lord, when he offered bread and wine, intended to establish a memorial of his own sacrifice on the Cross. This memorial serves to represent his sacrifice and convey its saving power to his disciples for all time. The sacrifice of the Eucharist, therefore, functions as a 'memorial' of the sacrifice on the Cross. It does not merely recall a past event but actually makes it present. This is because Christ himself is truly present under the outward signs of bread and wine, offering himself in sacrifice to the Father.

The sacrifice of the Eucharist is essentially identical to the sacrifice of the Cross. It is the same priest, Christ himself, who offers it, and the same victim, Christ himself, who is offered. However, in the Eucharist, Christ offers himself through the ministry of his Church and under the external symbols of bread and wine.

The Sacrifices of The Church

The sacrifice of the Eucharist, known as the Qurbana, encompasses not only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ but also that of the Church, and consequently, our own sacrifice. When the bread and wine are presented in the Qurbana, they symbolise the Church's self-offering, representing the Body of Christ offering itself in unity with its Head. These symbols represent us; they signify our willingness to offer ourselves to God in conjunction with Christ. It is crucial, therefore, that we consciously offer ourselves to God during the Qurbana; this forms the essence of the people's participation in the sacrifice.

During the Consecration, when Christ transforms the bread and wine into his body and blood, our sacrifice merges with his, and we become united with him, forming one body. Subsequently, during communion, we receive our offering back, now enriched beyond measure. Our humble offering of ourselves, symbolised by the bread and wine, transforms into Christ's offering himself, and we receive his divine life into our own beings, undergoing a transformation into his likeness.

holy_qurbono/sacrifices.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/18 20:05 by smcc