Can you imagine what it must have been like for the people of Israel, what a bloodied and stench-filled event the atonement for their sins must have been? Every year on the Day of Atonement the people were required to offer animal sacrifices for their sins, with full knowledge that it would never be enough. Their sin still remained; year after year they would be back offering sacrifices.
Then the Messiah came. He abolished the need for animal sacrifices with His One Perfect Sacrifice. But the newly-formed Christians had a hard time leaving their old practices behind. Maybe it was guilt, or a lack of trust, or maybe just a feeling that they needed to DO something.
I can relate to that feeling. I like to get things done, to check things off my list, even in my faith life. Go to Mass on Sundays, check. Love my neighbor, check. Weekly holy hour, check. Giving to those in need, check. The more things I check off my list, the more I feel like I’m winning at this Christian life.
But at the end the day, when I examine my conscience and look back on the things I did, I begin to waver. Was it enough?
The answer is always NO! All of the good things that I will ever do will never be enough. Just as it is “impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sin” (Hebrews 10:4), it is impossible for me to earn my own salvation. It has already been purchased. Instead of pretending I can do it on my own, I need to trust in the mercy of the One who purchased it.
We are living in the New Covenant. God has no use for our “burnt offerings and sin offerings” (Hebrews 10:6). It’s our hearts He’s after. And once we give them to Him, our lives and all the good things we do are transformed from vain attempts to earn our salvation into joyful responses to the saving work He has already done.
Pray this simple prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for Him to be with you in your day-to-day.
Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, and convert to the Catholic Faith. She is a classically trained pianist who, after teaching for ten years now stays home with her three young children. but still manages to flex her creative muscles through writing, knitting, and gardening. She is proud to call Saint Paul home and loves everything about living in Minnesota, except for winter. You can find out more about her here.