WE SHOULD HAVE SUCH A HIGH PRIEST

Sunday, March 12, 2017

For it was fitting that we should have such a Ηigh Priest (τοιοῦτος…ἀρχιερεύς), holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like high priests (ὥσπερ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς), to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all (ἐφάπαξ) when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever.” (Hebr 7: 26-28)

 

We do, indeed, have many priests and “high” priests (e.g., bishops, archbishops, metropolitans, etc.). These are “men” appointed “in their weakness,” and not “separated from sinners.” But we only have One “such” High Priest, Who had no need to offer up “for” Himself, because He had no sin. He offered up, rather, Himself, and did so “once and for all” (ἐφάπαξ). And it is the human-divine person of Jesus Christ, with His unique, high-priestly ministry to all of us, that continues to be the Source of power and meaning for the “other” priests and high priests. Our “other” priests and high priests are no more, and indeed no less, than participants in a priesthood that is His alone.

 

I need this reminder every now and then, of Him Who is the basis of all our liturgical rites and rituals, lest I slip into some wrong approach to church-going. One such “wrong” approach is a subtle consumerism, as if I am “fixing myself,” as I see fit (whether I decide to approach confession, communion, and so on). Another false approach would be a focus/dependency on the personalities in church, as if the whole enterprise called “Church” was about human beings fixing or serving me. The power and “meaning of it all” remains, ever-perfectly, ever-stably, One “separated from sinners” and “exalted above the heavens.” So today let me give up, once again, any attempts to “fix myself” or “be fixed” by human help alone. Even as I gratefully receive the ministry and help of priests in my church, I surrender to the will of One far greater than all of us, our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is “fitting,” as St. Paul says, “that we should have such a High Priest.”

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