What is the comparison between the Jewish Passover Meal in Exodus to the Holy Sacrifice in a Catholic Mass?
What/who is offered in each sacrifice? how are they similar? what happens to the victim in both? what is the purpose of each sacrifice? What does "pass over" mean for them? why did the israelites continue to celebrate it annually? why do we continue to celebrate the Mass?
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The Passover tradition dates to the time when the Israelites, ancestors of the Jewish people, were slaves in Egypt. After God had sent nine plagues in an attempt to coerce Pharaoh to free them, God sent a tenth plague, the death of the first born. God told the Israelites to mark the door post of their homes with the blood of a lamb, and the angel of death would literally "pass over" their homes:
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house....And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
The Jews thus celebrate Passover to mark the time when the angel of death passed over them. A lamb without blemish was considered the appropriate sacrifice for sin.
Jesus was celebrating the Passover when he shared the Last Supper with the disciples. He indicated to them that he was the perfect sacrifice for sin. The story is described in St. Luke's Gospel:
Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover....And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
In celebrating the Passover for the last time before his Crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated to his disciples that he was the lamb without blemish, the perfect sacrifice. The celebration of Jesus' Last Supper has been commemorated by all Christians, including Catholics as Holy Communion, or the Eucharist.
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