27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
We see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind. As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers.
We’re in the Letter to the Hebrews this Sunday – and the contect here is intersting and important in understanding the message fo this Sunday’s 2nd Reading. The Letter to the Hebrews was written (possibly by St. Paul, or perhaps by one of his followers) early in the 1st Centrury, when the Church was under continuous persecution and the destruction of the 2nd Temple was either close-at-hand, or had just taken place.
With this background, there were many Judeo-Chirstians who were beginning to have uncertainties as to Christ beign the Messiah after all. The Messiah was to be the descendant of David who came to lead the Chosen People of God. Oftentimes, they pictured a liberator, a fighter; a warrior-king. So imagine, then, being faced with a Man who died at the hands of an occupying force! It is these concerns that the epistle to the Hebrews seeks to address.
That is why the statement “for a short while made lower than the angels” is so important in understanding Christ’s place on Earth – that he, assumed humanity for a time to enter into humanity. The apparent defeat of the Crucifixion was only temporary – as Christ has now entered into “…glory and splendour because he submitted to death…”.
Becuase the Fundemental Truth of Christianity – that Christ took on humanity for the sake of humanity was a revalutionary truth for the Jew – that God (the Almighty) would forego His Divinity, even temporarily, was unfathomable. But it was the shared natures that was vital in the mystery of salvation. – It was not the blood of a lamb serving as a Sacrifice that brought sanctification; but instead the Lamb of God as the sacrifice “…for the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock…”.