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The Spirit Of The Liturgy: Chapter 3

The biggest challenge to the Temple worship according to Jesus, says Ratzinger, is that the people had lost the awareness that Israel's worship was always marked by insufficiency and impermanence; that is, they knew they were sojourners, both literally and figuratively.

The leaders of that time conceived of their worship cyclically, and that it would remain static. Ratzinger points to Leviticus 26, and to the Passover in Exodus 12, as obvious instances when the sacrificial system pointed to something beyond itself, by contrast. It had always been a true insight of all religions that the only proper gift that man could give to God was his own life. The pagan religions had conceived of this literally as human sacrifice.

Instead, Jesus cleansed the Temple to prepare for a new age of universality and fulfillment. He would be the Temple, and the priest, and the sacrifice. This new anticipation is joyful, waiting for the victory of the New Jerusalem.

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