The Church is moving us deeper into the mysteries of the Letter to the Hebrews, an intense, theological essay that explores the revelation of God in Christ.
Remember, our faith as Christians is not simply about having ideas or feelings about God or matriculating through faith based institutions, but is an encounter with a living, divine person who reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ. Our faith is in the divine person Jesus Christ and he offers to us a relationship with himself through his Church. With this relationship comes the promise that knowing him we can become like him, and becoming like him we become everything that God has created us to be!
The Second Vatican Council expressed this succinctly by insisting that Christ “fully reveals man to himself”, in other words, it is only in knowing the Lord Jesus that we can know God’s plan for our lives, the purpose for which he created us, and the meaning of our existence. Christ reveals who we really and truly are. Knowing who we are we know what our mission is. Without knowing Christ and entering into relationship with him humanity will drift into oblivion. Thus the urgency of deepening our relationship with the Lord Jesus and inviting other people to know him.
The Church has been created by Christ, not as a means by which its members receive faith-based services provided to them at requisite fees, but as the way the Lord Jesus will introduce himself to the world and invite people to share a relationship with him. That’s what the mission of the Church is all about.
The Letter to the Hebrews makes it clear that God in Christ has revealed himself to us and offered a relationship with us by entering into human history and accepting for as his own a human nature. Through this human nature he creates a bridge by which we can know him. This is who the Lord Jesus is- he is the bridge, the route of access by which we come to know God. The way to know God is not given to us in a book, but in a person- a living, divine person- Jesus Christ.
The human nature that God in Christ shares with us is as real as our own, and to demonstrate the reality of that human nature, God permits himself to suffer and to die. This is the sacrifice that God in Christ makes so as to demonstrate to us his love for us. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us today that this sacrifice that God in Christ makes out of love, through his willingness to suffer and die like us, reveals him to be the great high priest.
A priest is the one who offers a sacrifice, and God in Christ offers himself as a sacrifice, and this makes him, the greatest of all priests.
Now, we are beginning to consider excerpts from the Letter to the Hebrews that will be about how the Lord Jesus is a priest and the kind of worship that Christ the High Priest reveals to the world. This worship is a new kind of temple worship, and the reference points for understanding this temple worship will be the rituals and symbols of the Jerusalem Temple. God in Christ brings the worship of the Jerusalem temple to fulfillment, demonstrating that God intended that worship as a foreshadowing of the worship Christ would reveal to his Church.
The worship of the Church is temple worship and we see and experience the Church’s temple worship in the Mass. The Letter to the Hebrews explains what the Church’s worship in the Mass is all about.
The revelation of God in Christ is not about God giving us mandates to finance faith based charitable endeavors, but it is about worship- the kind of worship that God wants. God doesn’t want us making up worship for ourselves, elevating our ideas or feelings or culture to divine significance and in doing so offering homage to ourselves. When we do this we create idols and it is idolatry that hardens our hearts and makes us cruel.
We become like what we worship and worshipping wrong has dire consequences. God has come to us in Christ to give us right worship and through that right worship create a bridge by which we can pass from earth to heaven and come to know him.
Knowing him we can become like him and becoming like him we can become everything that God in Christ has created us to be.