Year B: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: Hebrews 7: 23-28
Today’s Reading lends a degree of support to the opinion that the Letter to the Hebrews was written for Jewish Christians. It is presumed that the readers have knowledge of the Law and the role of priests in the community.
Over the next three weeks, the writer reflects on the nature of the high priesthood of Christ: considering ways in which it is similar to the role of an earthly high priest but illuminating the ways in which it transcends it.
Jesus was not a priest - he did not belong to a priestly family and, in his instructions to his disciples, did not suggest that they were to take on the role of priest as it was understood at the time. If Jesus or his disciples wanted to offer sacrifice, they would have gone to the temple and a priest would have offered it on their behalf.
The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross changed that for all time - this one blood sacrifice eliminates for all time the need for others.
On the cross, Jesus was priest and victim - some traditions also see his mother at the foot of the cross as one who shared in the “priestly” work of offering this ultimate sacrifice to the Father.
At the moment of his death, we are told that the curtain before the Holy of Holies was torn: God was no longer present and hidden in the sanctuary - the veil between him and the people on earth had been removed.
Through his death, Jesus, who could not himself have entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies, entered into the eternal Holy of Holies of heaven.
The traditional role of priest was being superseded by something new and radically different - so new it was to take many years to begin to understand what this meant. Christ has created a priestly people whose every action can be a spiritual sacrifice - a public proclamation that they have been called out of darkness to offer themselves as living sacrifices.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring