Paul on Paul – 14th November 2021

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Hebrews 10:11-14,18

All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.

This Sunday’s 2nd Reading really builds on last week’s, continuing to examine the extraordinary priesthood of Jesus – or more exactly, how he carries out His priesthood.

Last week, we looked at how Christ was the perfect Priest – because he was not merely acting for humanity in the presence, of God – He was a Human who was God. Not only that, he was the perfect gift – he was the perfect sacrifice. While the sacrifices offered by Jewish priests were made in reparation for sins they were “…quite incapable of taking sins away”.

But Christ made a different type of sacrifice to those that came before – he made “…one single sacrifice for sins…”, not one that needs to be repeated or is not fully effectual. Christ’s sacrifice nearly 2000 years ago reunited Humanity to God, defeating the power of Sin – in a sure and certain Hope of God’s final victory.

So if the writer writes “When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings”, what is the point of Mass? This is often a question posed by a number of our Protestant brothers and sisters – when we talk about ‘The Sacrifice of the Mass’, are we not trying to recreate what God himself has already perfected? Well this is where it is important to understand what we are doing in the Mass – and why both this week and last week’s 2nd Readings work so well together.

If the priest were attempting to work under his own power, to try and offer what was just another symbolic offering, then the Mass is a worthless waste of time. But that is not what happens – the Priest is acting as Christ (in persona Christi) and is not making a ‘new’ sacrifice, but re-presenting Christ’s one perfect sacrifice. It is as if God creates a break in time-and-space, and every Mass is a part of the Angelic heavenly banquet described in Revelation. Christ sat “…at the right hand of God, where he is now“… joins us in the Mass from eternity, uniting us with his perfect redemptive sacrifice.

Through receiving the Body of Christ, we not only witness and unite ourselves to the Body of Christ on the Cross 2,000 years ago; but we join with the Body of Christ in the present in the Church, and experience a foretaste of the Body of Christ in the future.

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