Thou shalt take the fat of the ram, and the rump, and the fat that covereth the lungs, and the caul of the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder, because it is the ram of consecration. And one roll of bread, a cake tempered with oil, a wafer out of the basket of unleavened bread, which is set in the sight of the Lord. And thou shalt put all upon the hands of Aaron and of his sons, and shalt sanctify them elevating before the Lord. And thou shalt take all from their hands, and shalt burn them upon the altar for a holocaust, a most sweet savour in the sight of the Lord, because it is his oblation.
Thou shalt take also the breast of the ram, wherewith Aaron was consecrated, and elevating it thou shalt sanctify it before the Lord, and it shall fall to thy share. And thou shalt sanctify both the consecrated breast, and the shoulder that thou didst separate of the ram, Wherewith Aaron was consecrated and his sons, and they shall fall to Aaron’s share and his sons’ by a perpetual right from the children of Israel: because they are the choicest and the beginnings of their peace victims which they offer to the Lord. (Exodus 29:22- 28).
In the ritual instructions God gave to Moses for the consecrating of Aaron and his sons in their office of priesthood the right shoulder of the ram is to be set apart with the breast and the fat and the liver and kidneys and offered with unleavened bread as a holocaust to the Lord. Aaron and his sons alone, after their consecration, are to receive a part of the breast and the shoulder of the ram as a “perpetual right . . . because they are the beginnings of their peace victims which they offer to the Lord.” In the case of the ram being used for a “peace offering” (as differentiated from a “sin offering) the priests were to eat the breast and shoulder meat and burn what was left over (see also Leviticus chapters 3 and 7)
These instructions are repeated again in Levitus, Dueteronomy, and Numbers, with the “right shoulder” of the ram being mentioned eleven more times.
As I read through this chapter of Exodus it occurred to me that the right shoulder of the ram could well be a figure of the right shoulder of Our Lord as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Let it be remembered, however, that the bones of the Paschal Lamb were not to be broken, as no bone of the Crucified Savior was broken. (Exodus 12:46 and John 19:36) The lamb, that is the young sheep, was the more preferred figure of the Divine Victim on account of its silence in being led to slaughter, rather than the ram, which is a matured male sheep.
It would then be on His right shoulder that Jesus carried the Cross. According to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Bridget of Sweden (to both of whom Our Lord revealed it) and to Saint Padre Pio (who endured it) this wound was the most painful of all the hundreds of bruises suffered by Our Savior. In fact, the Flesh of the Adorable Shoulder was completely shredded off baring the bone. I posted a column back in August on the Scourging of Our Lord and His shoulder Wound. It can be found here.
The following prayer was composed by Saint Bernard:
Most loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I, a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross which so tore Thy flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee, and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain, and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen.