Jesus Christ, the Scapegoat and the Lamb of Sacrifice
(See Mt 11:28)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Book of Leviticus, Chapter 16, reporting the rite of atonement tells us that Aaron, the high priest, brought in two live goats and cast lots to choose one as the sin-offering goat, and another as the scapegoat.
The sin-offering goat was slaughtered and its blood was sprinkled on the people in order to wash away their sins.
The scapegoat was led to the high priest who put his two hands on its head and confessed over it all the sins of the people. Then the scapegoat was forced into the desert and left there to Azazel, the devil.
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, came into the world to take the two roles of the sin-offering goat and the scapegoat.
Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Hebrew, wrote of the sacrifice of Jesus’ own life which He offered to God the Father for the forgiveness of the sin of the whole human race:
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’
In fact, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, by His Suffering, Death on the Cross, and Resurrection, has perfectly accomplished the role of the Lamb of sacrifice and obtained God’s mercy and forgiveness of sin for the entire humanity, from the first to the last human person in the world. This gift of powerful salvation by Jesus Christ is called the universal saving grace.
Saint Peter confirming this solemnly pronounced:
There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.
As a result, no one on earth can be saved from the power of sin and death without confessing their faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. For this reason, Saint Cyprian could rightly declare that “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus est”, Latin for “there is no salvation outside the Church.”
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is also the scapegoat, because Saint John the Baptist introduces Jesus to us, saying:
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Innocent though, Jesus Christ took all responsibility of the sins committed by the human race and was severely punished by being crucified on the cross. He died in the place of sinners in order for them to be forgiven and to live eternally.
Trusting in Jesus Who is calling us, we come to Him bringing our sufferings and fears, hope and love. We tell Him our stories of joy and sorrow confident that He is listening to our problems.
Among problems in our life, sins are really heavy burdens hard to bear. So we need to confess our sins to Him asking Him for mercy and forgiveness. Who but God can forgive our sins? We believe that Jesus Christ is true God, compassionate and merciful Lord, Who is ready to forgive our sins.
But more important, we, as Christians, have to take the Commandment of love given to us by Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, and His Commandment of love turns to be the strength which helps us to bear with Him the burdens of humanity.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.