Tuesday, May 4, 2010

scapegoat of God, have mercy upon us

One of the laws in the book of Leviticus requires the high priest to lay all the sins of Israel onto one goat.  The priest lays his hands on the head of the goat, confesses the sins of the entire community, and then forces the goat to go into the wilderness and die.  It's both a psychological and spiritual event: the sins of Israel are atoned for, and the goat that serves as the reminder of their sins is put off into the wilderness.

Yet with Jesus we have something different, a new kind of scapegoat.  Jesus does not die on the cross outside the city walls (yes, just as the goat was driven away from the community), never to be remembered.  In fact, this is the new kind of scapegoat that we are commanded to remember as often as we eat of his body and drink of his blood.

Do not let your own human condition overwhelm you.  Lay it all at the foot of the cross and trust in the mercy and peace of the scapegoat of God.  Remember and meditate on this divine gift.  We are at one with God.  We are atoned.

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