Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday word, 22 Jan 2009

Second Thursday of the Year (22 Jan 2009)
Hb 7. 25-8.6; Ps 40; Mk 3. 7-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
One Is Best

The Letter to the Hebrews expresses the singularity of the priesthood of Jesus, God’s son and our messiah. The preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews thought in the categories of his time--1st Century--and culture--soaked in Greek ways. That way of thinking favored the one over the many, and the preacher expressed it at the beginning: God spoke in partial and various ways through the prophets...but in these last days through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe...he very imprint of his being./1/

Many were the ways and the times. You and I consider that a positive thing. In this way of thinking, however, many isn’t positive because it is fragmentary and incomplete, partial and various is one translation. Similarly, the agents of God’s invitation to humans were multiple, prophets: it had to be that way because death claimed one after another.

Jesus, however, God’s son and imprint of God’s being, God appointed to invite humans to share God’s life. Not only to invite: Because God forever perfected him, that is, completed him, raised him from death, Jesus has the power to make us sharers in the same life of God.

Jesus did this once for all not only as prophet but also as priest. That was the preacher’s main point. God’s oath, you are a priest forever...sit at my right hand, made Jesus our guarantee. The word the preacher used to describe Jesus’ priesthood, minister, translates the Greek word for one who did public service at one’s own expense./2/ Jesus’ service was his self-sacrifice so that we might share God’s indestructible life/3/. No greater expense exists!

In this way, the one man-God, priest-king Jesus has obtained for us so much more excellent a ministry as he is mediator of a better covenant, enacted on better promises, God’s own. Not only singular, Jesus’ priesthood and self-sacrifice effects forever our transformation if we remain in close relationship with Jesus, that is, true to our baptism into our one "priest, prophet and king."/4/

1. Hebrews 1. 1-3.
2. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 4:229.
3. See Hebrews 6.19-20, ending Tuesday’s selection.
4. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and Rite of Baptism.
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