Christ Is Our High Priest
Apr 26, 2019
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he. Zechariah 9.9-13
Today the Church enters into Holy Week with Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. During this very holy time, the Church meditates on the events of the last week of Christ’s life on earth. “The sky of holy Church grows darker,” says Benedictine Dom Gueranger.
We move closer to the great drama of Calvary. “We enter into the Paschal Mystery, the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, which holds the first place among all Christian festivals, during these days with our greatest devotion. We know they bring us near to that day on which is celebrated that sublime mystery of the divine mercy,” (Saint Leo).
The anniversary of our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection is close at hand. Jesus, our priest and mediator, will soon “be raised up on the Cross and will offer the Most Precious blood to His Father as a sacrifice, and entering into the Holy of Holies, which is heaven itself and securing our eternal redemption” (Letter to the Hebrews).
Jesus Christ is a priest. He is a priest who was told of and prefigured in the Law, Prophets, and by many in Old Testament revelation. Now the time draws near, Jesus says in the Gospel of Saint John. “Father, the hour has come, glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You.”
Jesus’s prayer has been answered by the Father, and His saving acts as our High Priest will bring graces, pardon, justification, and life for us from the wood of the Cross. “Jesus, the Son of God, learned obedience by the things He suffered; and being consummated, He became, to all that obey Him, the cause of eternal salvation,” says Saint Paul.
Jesus’s offering to the Father began at the Annunciation; Mary’s obedience to the Father through the message of the angel Gabriel was the beginning of Christ’s saving mission of the Cross. Every grace flows for us from the Cross “[i]n which we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ” (Saint Paul).
Jesus becomes our very own mediator between us and the Father by offering Himself on the Cross. We can trust that the Father hears our prayers through the prayers of the Son. All the graces and desires of our heart are there at our asking. We have confidence and hope in this great mystery of the Faith. In Christ we find all. The power and mercy of His priesthood are so great, that even now, says Blessed Columba Marmion, the Benedictine spiritual writer, Christ “fulfills this office of Mediator and continues His Sacrifice for our sanctification.” Christ eternally remains a High Priest, always giving of Himself for us in heaven.
Christ’s sacrifice for us is unique. It is not like the sacrifice of the priests of the Old Testament, who would offer the sacrifice of blood day after day in the temple in the Holy of Holies. Christ has offered His sacrifice upon earth once and for all by His own precious blood, not in a tabernacle made by man, but in the sanctuary of Heaven.
Therefore, He is the mediator of the New Covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. Hebrews 9.15
Our Lord prays for us before the Father in Heaven at this very moment. He is alive in eternity, forever interceding for us. “Death has no more power over Him,” says Saint Paul.
So even now. All these mysteries we have reflected on are a reality in the Mass. The Church teaches that the priest acts in the person of Christ as head of the Church. He offers the sacrifice as an instrument of Christ, no matter where he is on earth. During the Holy Mass, we step into eternity because we are united through the power of the Holy Spirit to the eternal sacrifice of Christ in Heaven, He who is always interceding for us with our Heavenly Father.
Jesus has conquered death with His own death on the Cross, the great act of love we meditate on in these coming holy days of the Church’s year. Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” The lifting up of Jesus on the Cross signifies and announces His lifting up by His Ascension into Heaven. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the New and Eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” There Christ permanently exercises His priesthood, for He “always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through him,” says the Letter to the Hebrews. Our Lord as “high priest of the good things to come” is the center of the Sacred Liturgy, giving praise to the Father in Heaven.
God bless you and your families,
Father Aidan, OSB