32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf. And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have had to suffer over and over again since the world began. Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. Since men only die once, and after that comes judgment. so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.
The common theme over the past month’s passages from the Letter to the Hebrews – and indeed, the common theme throughout the whole Book – is the closeness to God the Father that Jesus, God the Son, brings with him.
The key message this Sunday, in particular, is that God completely gave Himself for us, and made our case for us after his death. He was not just ‘some man’ praying to God and asking for forgiveness; he entered “…heaven itself so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf…”.
And in that Passion to enter heaven, what was offered in reparation to God for sin was not a symbol or a Sign, but the body and blood of the God-Man himself. And not that that is done – it need not happen again, for “…Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself,“
So what, then, of the future? The writer (St. Paul, by Tradition) tells us that Christ has “do[ne] away with sin by sacrificing himself“…but that’s not a perfect victory is it? We know from our own lives the effect Sin still reeks on the world. And this is where we turn to the ‘Second Coming’ of Christ – more of which we will see next week: and when he appears a second time, it will not be to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.“.
Christ comes not merely to stop us going further from God; He comes to actively bring us closer to Him.