Hb 8. 6-13; Ps 85; Mk 3. 13-19
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews has looked at Jesus, our great high priest. The preacher noted that Jesus’ priesthood was singular and different from all other ones because he offered a sacrifice once for all, and because he entered into God’s own existence. That is what the phrase into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner./1/
The effect is that Jesus is the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him./2/ How? Jesus is mediator of a better covenant. The preacher again cites scripture, this time the longest citation in the New Testament of Jeremiah. We recognize it because it is familiar. The preacher considered it above all God’s speech, for as the preacher began his reflection, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe...When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high./3/
Jeremiah’s refrain, the days are coming, the preacher understood to be these last days in which God spoke definitively in Jesus and his priesthood for us. Jesus won for us what Jeremiah announced God promised to do: to make us God’s people, who all shall know me, from least to greatest.
This covenant-knowledge of God is deeply personal and exceeds mere intellectual assent. It is felt-knowledge which God engraves on human hearts: I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people. The human response is faithful attentiveness to this personally-given new covenant. Scripture’s favored phrase for this is to obey, which comes into our language from Latin, "to hear towards."
The one who guaranteed/4/ that we receive this personally-given new covenant is our high priest, Jesus, the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him./5/ The preacher of old helps us today: is our response to Jesus sluggish,/6/ or do we unite ourselves to to our high priest who is our guarantee to share God’s very life?
1. Hebrews 6.19.
2. Hebrews 5.10.
3. Hebrews 1.1-3.
4. Hebrews 6.16.
5. Hebrews 5.9.
6. Hebrews 5.11.
Wiki-image of mosaic of Jesus by G.dallorto, holder of the copyright, gives permission for reuse when attribution is given.