18 October 2009


18 OCTOBER 2009. Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Today's readings are found here.

The second reading for today's mass struck me. It gives recognition to Christ as the great high priest, and reminds us that Our Lord Jesus knew all the temptations that we know, indeed He suffered those same temptations, but remained sinless. Therefore, Christ is the mediator that brings the abundance of God's love, through His priestly ministry, to us.

The text of the Epistle (Hebrews 4:14-16) is as follows:
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
The reading begins with a call to the faithful to hold fast to "our confession" which was set out in verse one of the previous chapter: "Therefore, holy 'brothers,' sharing in a heavenly calling, reflect on Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession . . . ." (Heb 3:1) The believers confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the great high priest--"who has passed through the heavens"--and who is above all the high priests of the temple.

Given that Christ is the great high priest from heaven, one might be led to think that Christ cannot relate to us and our failures, but the author sets the minds of the faithful at ease. We hear that, like us, Christ has been tested by the temptations and weaknesses that each of us suffers from, but is "yet without sin."

We have a great high priest in Christ Jesus that is approachable. He knows and loves us, despite our weaknesses which He himself has also felt. Therefore we can approach the "throne of grace"--that is, the throne of God the Father--with confidence that Christ, through His priestly ministry, has prepared the way for us, all sinners, to receive from God Our Father "mercy and to find grace for timely help."

Two aspects of this reading touched me particularly. First, no matter what sin or temptation plagues us, we can rely on the love of Christ to be an approachable and faithful love. Christ Himself has felt the same temptations, yet He persevered through them without Sin. To be Christian, then, I need to also persevere through the temptations and low points of life too without sin. But, the immediate question arises: I am not Christ, how can I live up to this ideal? How can I live in a manner that avoids sin despite the world around me? The Epistle also answers these questions.

The second point that touched me is that Christ was, indeed, a priest--a minister to the people: to me--who by his life, passion, death, and resurrection has made all the necessary assistance available to me to live a truly Christian life. The answer to my questions is right there: because of Christ, I can confidently approach God the Father and receive the grace for timely help. And, when I fail in Christian living, which will certainly occur, I can turn to God the Father for His mercy. All of this is made possible by and through Christ, the great high priest.

Praise Our Lord Jesus Christ!

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