For each of these times, they were to hold a sacred assembly, but for the Day of Atonement, it was not a day of celebration. It was a day of national remembrance of their sin. A day to somberly consider both their personal sins and the sins they committed collectively as a nation.
God calls us also to reflect on our personal and national sins, especially in times like these. We are called to repent of the acts of violence committed against our brothers and sisters by our nation as well as our complicity when we remain silent in the face of injustice. God wisely instructed the Israelites to dedicate a day to reflect on their lives, to turn away from their previous ways, and to follow Him.
We must acknowledge that we, as a nation, have failed to live up to the God-given creed that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Perhaps if we will reflect on our nation's failures as thoughtfully as we celebrate our achievements we would understand the need for healing and reconciliation. If we consider our own personal shortcomings in our treatment of one another, and seek forgiveness, we can move toward peace.
The plethora of sacrifices offered by the Israelites did not remove their sin, but simply pointed to the One who would, finally, cleanse them of sin. For those who live in the light of Christ's sacrifice for us, we must remember His calling on our lives in Matthew 22:37-40 when He was asked what the Greatest Commandment is: "Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”