The Spiritual Sacrifice

“If indeed the soul takes refuge in God, believes and seeks the salt of life, which the is good and human loving Spirit, then the heavenly salt comes and kills those ugly worms. The Spirit takes away the awful stench and cleanses the soul by the strength of his salt. Thus the soul is brought back to health and freed from its wounds by the true salt in order again to be useful and ordered to serve the Heavenly Lord. That is why even in the Law, God uses this example when he ordered that all the sacrifices be salted with salt (cf. Lev 2.2, 13).

It was therefore necessary that the sacrifice first be killed by a priest. After it died, it was cut in pieces and seasoned with salt, then placed on the fire. Unless the priest first kills the lamb, it is not salted nor is it brought to the Lord as a burnt offering. Similarly also our soul must approach the High Priest Christ to be slain by him and die to its own thoughts and the wicked life which is was living, that is, to die to sin. Thus the life of wicked passions must go out of it.

Just as the body, after the soul has left it, is dead and has no longer life in it as it had before (neither does it hear nor walk), so after Christ, the Heavenly High Priest, by the grace of his power, puts to death our life to the world, it dies to the life of corruption that it formerly lived. It no longer hears nor speaks nor moves about in the darkness of sin because the evil passions which possessed the soul have by grace left it. Thus the Apostle exclaims saying: ‘The world is crucified to me and I to the world (Gal 6.14).” St. Macarius the Great, Homily 1, Chapters 5-6 as in Maloney, G. A. (Ed.). (1992). The Fifty Spiritual Homilies; And, the Great Letter. Paulist Press. p40.

For those who enjoyed Yom Kippur – Sin and Its Reparation, this passage from St. Macarius the Great comes as no surprise. The sacrifices in the Old Testament which are salted serve as a type for our own ‘salting’. The method of preservation from corruption in the ancient world (of course without refrigeration) was by salt. Salt is what would preserve food from going rotten and spoiling. Here St. Macarius the Great makes it clear that this same salt for all human beings is the contact and mingling with the Holy Spirit Himself.  For this ‘salting’ to happen with us, we too must be slain by the High Priest Who is Christ. Here St. Macarius speaks of the dying to the corruptible and mortal elements so that we might be preserved by the Holy Spirit. We put to death our carnal lusts (Cf. Col 3.5) that we might live to our true life in God (cf. Col 3.3).

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