Friday, 6 February 2015

How Christ said the first mass, By Rev. James L. Meagher, D.D. Part 23.


VI.— THE FEAST OF UNLEAVEN BREAD AT THE PASSOVER.

The Passover and feast of unleaven bread were intermingled, woven one into tiie other to foretell that the crucifixion and the Last Supper—Christ's Passion and the Mass, were to be not two but one and the same identical Sacrifice. 1 The first day of the feast they held the Passover Supper, the feast of unleaven bread lasted for a week, from the evening of the fourteenth moon to the evening of the twenty-first. The last day was the octave of the Passover and closed the series of feasts with a great banquet. This gave rise to the octaves of our Church feasts.
The whole week was called the Passover. Each night they held a feast called the Chagigah. This was the reason they would not enter Pilate's hall: "that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch." 2
The Jews, divided into bands of not less than ten nor more than twenty men, held these feasts during this week; each evening they ended the day with a great banquet, the most celebrated being held in the Cenacle. "The Banquet Chamber." They called these banquets, mishteh, or shatha, "to drink," because wine was the chief beverage. In former times it was named "yayin," "wine" or "grape juice." 3
The feasts of this week were celebrated from the days of Moses. Jesus son of Sirach in his advice to a ruler, writing more than two hundred years before Christ, mentions, "the crown" the presiding elder wore at the table, "the concert of music in a banquet of wine," "the signet ring of gold worn on the finger," "the melody of music and moderate wine," "in the company of great men," "when the ancients are present." 4 Now let us see these banquets, for the details tell us how the Last Supper was held.

ILLUMINATIONS.

In memory of their father's delivery from Egyptian slavery at the Passover, they used to demand the liberation of a prisoner condemned to death. 5 The Talmud alludes to this ancient custom, which even prevailed among the Romans.6 The Gospel history enshrined forever in human hearts the incident when the Jews asked Pilate to deliver to them a criminal in place of the Lord that fatal Friday of the crucifixion the second day of the Passover. Many ancient MSS. of the Gospel, 7 supported by the Armenian version, cited by Origen, 8 held by Tischendorf in his second edition, but rejected later, states that this robber's name was Jesus Barabbas. Therefore this was the question Pilate asked: "Whom will you that I release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" 9
The Passover celebrated the first night and the feast of unleaven bread held each night after during the week,9 were emblematic of the Church, the Messiah's kingdom, and the Eucharist. 1o In Christ's time the Rabbis promised their followers, that they would pass entire eternity eating at "the Lord's table," thus they understood the prophecies of the Eucharist.
During the nights of this week synagogues and houses where they celebrate the feasts were illuminated with terra cotta lamps and torches; and had beeswax candles on the table. The Temple Courts were brilliantly lighted up, the seven-branched candlestick, quenched during other nights, burned all night in the Holies, and the Temple gates were left opened.
At that epoch the streets had no lamps and outside the houses there was exterior darkness and gnashing of teeth, image of hell, for those under kareth, "cut off"—because of sin or uncleanness. 11
The second evening took place the ceremony of the Omer, the sheaf of barley foretelling Christ's arrest. 12 In Palestine, Arabia, California, and desert regions, grain is sowed in the fall, grows during the winter rains and is reaped in the spring. Therefore God commanded them to offer the barley sheaf, the Omer, in the Temple before they began the harvest. The Omer was the "first-fruit," of the harvest.

THE CUTTING OF THE SHEAF.

"And the Lord spoke to Moses saying ... When you shall have entered into the land which I will give you and shall reap your corn, you shall bring sheaves of ears, the first fruits of your harvest to the priests." 13 Down, their history from Moses, additions were made to that yearly Passover ceremony, so that in Christ's time it had become an elaborate rite, 14 for it foretold first-fruit of mankind, Jesus Christ, offered to his Eternal Father.
The "morrow after the Sabbath," 15 the day of the crucifixion, all the Temple priests were so engaged in that ceremony they did not oppose Joseph's request for Pilate to give him Jesus' dead body hanging on the cross.
Josephus 16 and other Jewish writers show the rite took place after sundown on the evening of the fifteenth of Nisan, the day Christ died. The evening of the fourteenth, the day Christ was arrested, delegates from the Temple went down into the Cedron valley, just to the north of Gethsemane, to the very spot where Christ was arrested, carrying money from the Temple treasury, the Corban, as they took money from the same Corban which they gave to Judas. To the owner of the field they gave the thirty pieces of silver for the standing barley, which they tied still standing in the very place where they tied Jesus' hands.
The time for cutting the sheaf was next day, the fifteenth day of Abib, while Jesus' body hung in death. Even if the day fell on the Sabbath, the ceremony was carried out. As the westering sun was setting a noisy band of Temple guards and Levites led by priests and Pharisees—the very men who the day before had arrested the Lord, went out the Sheep Gate, and down into the Cedron valley just east of the Temple walls. The rabble of the town and loafers followed them each year as they did that fatal night of Christ's arrest.
Only after sunset could they cut the barley, for at night they arrested the Saviour.

IMPRESSIVE SYMBOLS.

Not wheat, but barley, could they cut, for the inferior grain foretold the Lord that night with the sins of mankind on him in his Passion. They gathered round the tied standing sheaf as they had surrounded Christ. No Psalm was sung, no prayer was said, while they waited for the setting sun, for it foretold that covenant with hell they made with Judas, 17 for the betrayal of the Master on the very same spot.
Three times the leader asked the bystanders, "Has the sun set yet?" Thrice they replied, "Yes, it has set." Three times he repeated "Shall I reap with this sickle?" to which they answered thrice, "Yes." Three times he says: "Into this basket?" and to each they reply "Yes." Again three times he asks, "On this Sabbath" or "Day of the Passover?" and to each question they shout "Yes." Lastly he inquires, "Shall I reap?" and they yell "Yes."
Then they cut the tied sheaves of standing barley, enough to fill an ephah, three seahs, ten omers nearly half a bushel. Across the bridge spanning the Cedron, over which they used to lead each animal for sacrifice, across which they led Christ tied the night they arrested Him, they brought the tied sheaves of barley, which they delivered to the priests in the Temple, as they delivered up Christ to the priests that historic night.
The priests stretched their hands over the barley with prayer, putting their sins on it as they used to do over the victims, then they offered it to the Lord by "waving." That is, they raised it on high, and moved it to the four points of the compass making a cross, for it foretold the Victim of the cross bearing mankind's sins.
The Temple servants thrash the grain with rods as the Lord was scourged, till the grain separates from the chaff as the Saviour was stripped of his garments.
In a pan perforated with many holes, they parch the grain, as the Redeemer was filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. They ground the grain as the body of Christ was broken, they pass the flour through thirteen sieves, each finer than the other, one of the Cizbarim "Treasurers," plunging in his hands during the sifting as long any flour adhered. 18 Of the ten omers only one now remained, a little more than two quarts of fine barley flour.

THE LAST DAYS OF THE PASSOVER.

This they mix with about a pint of olive oil, and a handful of incense, foretelling the Messiah anointed by the Holy Ghost, praying for mankind during his life and Passion, and his body prepared for the grave with incense, a handful of the flour thus prepared they burned on the great sacrificial altar, to show that the Omer was united with all the victims there sacrificed.
This yearly ceremonial of their fathers they called "the presentation of the first wave-sheaf." The harvest could not be begun before this ceremony. From it they counted all their movable feasts and fasts as now in the Church we count the movable feasts from Easter. The Jews of our day still follow the practice. The Jewish Prayer Book counts each day from the Omer till Pentecost. But since the destruction of Jerusalem they do not hold the ceremony of the presentation of the Omer. 19
"On the same day that the sheaf is consecrated, a lamb, without blemish shall be killed for a holocaust of the Lord, and the libations shall be offered with it, two tenths of flour tempered with oil, for a burnt offering to the Lord, and a most sweet odor; libations also of wine, the fourth part of a hin." 20 Thus the Omer foretelling Christ's death, the sacrificed lamb, the bread and wine of the Last Supper were offered, and linked together tabernacle, Temple, Crucifixion, Passover and the Mass.
The last days of the feast of unleaven bread were called Moed Katon, "Minor Festivals," and the Talmud lays down many regulations relating to them. 21 In the time of Christ they were also called the Chagigah "Festival," from the Hebrew Chag, ''to dance," because of the ceremonies; not realizing the sacredness of the feast, sometimes dancing girls exhibited before the guests, as did Herodias before Herod and his guests when she asked the head of John the Baptist.22
Many Scripture texts mention these banquets, over which they were to sound the trumpet; 23 the eatables were to be bought with money received for tithes sold; 24 they were to be eaten before the Shekina dwelling in the Temple. 25

SOLEMN FEASTS.

The word translated "Lord" in the text is Shekina in the original Hebrew.
Under the pious king Ezechias, the Levites banqueted during the seven days of Passover; 26 "immolating victims of peace offerings, and praising the Lord, the God of their fathers" with sacrifices mentioned in the law. 27 Onkelos understands here the paschal lamb. 28 The good Ezechias and his princes gave the people at this great Passover 2,000 bullocks, 17,000 sheep. At another Passover Josias gave, besides the lamb "for the Passover offerings, 3.000 oxen," foretelling rulers, princes and wealthy families supporting the Church in Christian times.
These passages tell us that the Chagigah, or last days of the Passover, were celebrated with great and holy solemnity. If the fifteenth day fell on the Sabbath the lamb might be sacrificed, but not the other victims, for they were killed on the day before so as not to break the Sabbath's solemn rest. 29
These victims for the Chagigah might be roasted or boiled. 30 The lamb, foretelling Christ crucified, was always roasted, the Law forbade it to be boiled. 31 "And they roasted the phase with fire, according to that which is written in the law, but the victims of peace-offerings they boiled in chaldrons, and kettles, and pots, and they distributed them speedily among all the people." 30
The remaining days of Passover week they celebrated as solemn feasts. Each day they sacrificed special offerings. 32 After the morning sacrifices had been offered in the Temple, 33 private individuals, heads of families or chiefs of tribes brought victims, male or female, without spot or blemish, laid their hands on their heads, putting on them their sins, and the sins of the family or tribe. Then the offerer killed the victim and gave the blood to the priests to be splashed on the altar. Such private offerings might be sacrificed any day in the Temple for private devotions on any day of the year, but during this Easter week, victims with bread and wine were offered with greater devotion. They foretold the stipends and offerings now given the clergy for Masses for the living and the dead, a custom coming down from apostolic times.

A FIGURE OF BAPTISM.

The victim's blood was sprinkled on the horns of the altar, but the tail, fat, and kidneys, were burned on the altar. The breast was given the priest who "waved" it, offering it to God in the form of a cross, with the right shoulder as a heave-offering. 34 What remained of the victim wafi given the offerer, who with his guests formed a feast atid they ate them that day or the day following. If any part remained till the third day it was burned.' 35
Hebrews filled with devotion for their religion and Temple, copied from Moses' ceremonial, and their banquets were always saturated with religion. To the south of the great Temple altar was the great bronze laver resting on twelve brazen oxen. In it priests bathed the whole body before taking part in the services. They had besides many bathrooms in the Temple. Before they celebrated the Passover, each one bathed the whole body, as he plunged into the water, saying:
"Let it be thy will, O God, my Lord, that thou causest me to come in and go out in peace, that thou causest me to return to my place in peace, and save me from this and from like danger in this world and in the world to come." 36
Priest, Levite and people coming into the Temple to take part in its grand ceremonial, must bathe and be clean as becomes one in the presence of their King. It was a figure of baptism, which was to come and wash men's souls from sin. This was the origin of the holy water at the doors of our churches. At every Moslem mosque you will find people bathing their feet before entering the edifice, a custom coming from the Temple.
The Jews at the time of Christ were noted for their feasts. 37 They used to invite their relatives and friends and divide into bands of not less than ten or more than twenty persons, for this was the number in the bands at Passover. Men and women did not feast together. The lady of the house invited her female friends, and with them held a feast, but the men did not take part with them. The separation of the sexes is still carried out in the Orient. A wealthy Christian of Bethlehem gave a dinner in honor of the writer which lasted more than two hours, but not a female of the household was seen.

A PATRIARCHAL CUSTOM.

The father of the family, or the master of the house, in the time of Christ received each invited guest at the door with the word Salama: ''Peace," or "Peace be with this house," to which the guest replied: "May your heart be enlarged." This was the Marahaba of the Hebrews, the Alaic of the Talmud, the Oriental greeting of friends. It is still seen in the Roman Ritual.
Laying their shoes, or sandals, at the door, the guests went barefoot in the house. Before they reclined at the table, servants or the master of the house washed their feet. The custom came down from the patriarchs.
Abraham washed the feet of the three angels who visited him in his tent. 38 Laban prepared water to wash Eleazar's feet, when he came into Mesopotamia seeking a wife for Isaac. 39 Joseph's steward brought water to wash the feet of Jacob's eleven sons, when they came back to his house after finding the money in their sacks. 40 Abigal asked of David only the privilege of washing his servants' feet. 41 David told Urias to go into his house and wash his feet as a preparation for supper and bed. 42 When Tobias went to wash his feet, a fish came to devour him. 43 Job washed his feet with butter. 44 The Spouse, speaking to the Church, says of the night of the Last Supper. "I have put off my garment. How shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?" 45
In rich families servants performed this service, among the middle classes sons and daughters did it, but if he wished to show special honors to his visitors, the father washed their feet. Being a servant's work, we understand how Christ took a towel, girded himself with it, and went from one to another washing the disciples' feet with water in a basin. Peter could not understand why the Master would do a servant's work, protested and was told to obey, or his refusal would lose for him his call to the apostolate. All had taken a bath, as was the custom before celebrating the Passover, their feet were soiled walking over the floor, and Christ said: "He that is washed needeth but to wash his feet but is clean wholly."

TABLE CUSTOM.

Cleanness of body signified the soul washed from sin. All were innocent but Judas, Caiphas' nephew, who had all along acted as a spy for Temple priests, secretly received money from them for his promise of betrayal, and Jesus said: "And you are clean, but not all." For he knew who he was that would betray him, therefore he said: "You are not all clean." 46 Before sitting at the table, they washed their hands, for they dipped them into the dishes to grasp the morsels of food.
The master with a large knife carved the meat, handing to each his portion, a custom still followed till our day. The knife was often like a lance, and gave rise to our carving knife. There was no other knife on the table. Table knives were introduced in the tenth century, and the fork later. Stools were introduced in Charlemagne's day, in the middle ages backs were added so they became chairs. At ordinary meals the people sat on the floor around the table, their limbs curled under them. But at formal feasts they reclined on couches. 47
Many waiters served guests in rich houses, but among the poor, wives and daughters cooked the food and waited on the table. Sarah and her servants prepared the meal and waited on the angels who visited Abraham. Samuel warned the Hebrews that if they insisted on having a king, in place of God who was then their Ruler, he would take their daughters to make his ointments, and serve as cooks in his kitchen 48 as servants served in Pharaoh's palace as eunuchs, butlers and bakers. 49
The master of the feast, called the architriclinus, "master of three beds," on which they reclined, served the guests like the carver of our day. When there were many tables, each had a master or carver who presided. When Joseph gave a dinner in honor of his brothers, 50 he sat at a separate table, because he was Pharao's prime minister, and had to uphold his dignity. The food was placed first before Joseph, who served it to his brothers. When Elcana with his two wives went up to the Lord's tabernacle to adore, and following the custom, he held a family feast, he waited on the table, giving to the members of his family their portions, but that of his wife Anna he gave with sorrow, for she was childless. 51

SOLOMON'S FEASTS.

Later she brought forth Samuel the great prophet.
Homer tells us the Greeks had each a table and the master served the guests. Banquets of Persian kings were elaborate; tables were placed along the sides of the great court, around which the palace was built, or in the "Hall of a Hundred Columns," of which the ruins still stand on the great platform of Persepolis.
Sweetest of the meats was the flesh of the kid, and this was why Rebecca told Jacob to kill a kid, when he received his dying father's blessing. Jacob's words were not a lie, but a mystery, as St. Augustine explains. Covered with the kid-skin he typified the scapegoat with the sins of Israel, and foretold Christ with the sins of mankind on him in his Passion. Jacob did not lie to his dying father Isaac, for he had bought the right of the firstborn from his brother Esau, and beautifully the great Fathers explain the whole action relating to the Church and to Christ—they were prophecies in each action.
Solomon's feasts were famous. Each day saw laid on his table thirty measures of fine flour, sixty measures of meal, thirty fat cattle, a hundred rams, besides harts, roes, fowls, etc., with products of the hunt. 52 David gave to the Israelites each a cake, and a piece of roasted meat when they came up to Jerusalem, while the ark remained in his house before the Temple was built. 53
When Isaac blessed Jacob, when man and wife were reconciled, when David ate with Saul, and when the prophet dined with Jeroboam they sat on the ground, at a low table, their limbs curled up under them in Oriental fashion, and this was the way the common people ate in Christ's time. In days of the kings the master at the table sat on a little stool 54 as a mark of honor. This was the primitive way of eating among all nations. During the heroic age in Greece, they sat at the table. 55 Ruined walls of Korsabad, Nineve, Calne, etc., show kings sitting on high chairs at table.

1 See Luke xxii. 1; Mark xiv. 12.

2 John xviii. 28; Levit. xxiii. 5-6.

3 Cant of Cant. ii. 4; Eccle. 32, etc.

4 Eccle. 32, etc.

5 Matt, xxvii. 15; Luke xxiii. 17: John xviii. 39.

6 Livy, v. 13. Pesachim, viii. 6.

7 Matt, xxvii. 17.

8 On Matt. v. 35.

9 Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 190, 204, and ii. 434, etc.

10 Luke vii. 32-39; xiii. 25, 26-29.

11 Prov. ix. 2; Amos. vi. 4; Isaias v. 12; Matt. xxvi. 20, 26; Luke vii. 46-49; John xii. 2.

12 Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 201; Edersheim, Life of Christ, ii.; 205-210, etc.

13 Levit, xxiii. 10.

14 Levit. xxiii. 14.

15 Levit. xxiii. 11.

16 Antiq. iii. 10, 5, 6; Philo. Op. ii. 294.

17 Isaias xxviii. 18.

18 Men. vi. 6, 7.

19 See Zanolini, De Festis, Judæorum, c. 4; Jewish Prayer Book, etc.

20 Levit. xxiii. 12,13.

21 Talmud, Mishna, Moed Katon.

22 Matt. xiv. 8. See Migne, iii. 850-855; xxiii. 1024, 928, etc.

23 Numb. x. 10.

24 Deut. xiv. 25. 26.

25 Deut. xiv. 23. 24.

26 II. Par. xxx. 22.

27 Deut. xvi. 2.

28 II. Par. xxxv. 6, 7, 8.

29 Pesach., iv. 4, x. 3.

30 II. Par. xxxv. 13.

31 Exod. xii.

32 Numb, xviii. 16 to end; Levit, xxiii. 8.

33 Numb, xviii. 17 to end.

34 Levit. iii. 1-5; vii. 29-34.

35 Levit. vii. 17, 18; Pesach., vi. 4.

36 Talmud, Day of Atonement.

37 Migne, Cursus Comp., S. Theologiæ v. 2, p. 117.

38 Gen. xviii. 4.

39 Gen. xxiv. 32.

40 Gen. xliii. 24.

41 I. Kings xxv. 41.

42 II, Kings xi. 8.

43 Tobias vi. 2.

44 Job xxix. 6.

45 Cant, of Cant. v. 3.

46 John xiii. 11.

47 See Migne, Cursus Com., S. Scripturæ ii, 1170.

48  I Kings viii. 13.

49 Gen. xl. 1.

50 Gen. xliii. 32.

51 I Kings i. 4-5.

52 III. Kings iv. 22, 23.

53 II. Kings vi. 19.

54 IV. Kings, iv. 10.

55 Homer, II., x. 578; Od. i. 145.