2nd Week of Ordinary Time (24th January, 2019)
First Reading: Heb 7:25 – 8:6
Gospel: Mk 3:7-12
Today’s first reading presents to us the supremacy f sacrifice of Jesus done once for all. The one sacrifice of Jesus Christ is presented as far superior to the many sacrifices offered by the old priesthood.
The sacrifice as described in the Old Testament reveal to us that God replaced Adam and Eve’s fig leaves with the skin of an animal (Gen 3:21). God had taken the blood of the animal in the place of the blood of Adam and Eve so that they could be forgiven and stand unblemished before God. This substitutionary sacrifice is viewed through actual animal victims taking upon themselves the sins of the people of Israelites. This we see in the chapter 4 of book of Leviticus. These sacrifices could never cleanse the offerors or take away their sins. So, they become unacceptable to God as we see in today’s reading, “Sacrifice and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” though they were offered in accordance with the law (Heb 10:8). What it means that when but they were offered as if the offering of them were meritorious on the part of the offerors, or as substitutes for personal obedience and sacrifice, they were not acceptable to God. So, God does not accept our profession, praises, prayer or gifts as the substitutes for faith, love and obedient. The reason why the Old Testament offerings remained imperfect was that the blood of goats and bulls offered could only make the outwardly clean for they replaced man’s sacrifice of God without any element of man involved in it. There was nothing from one’s own part.
On the other hand, we find that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was not offered day after day. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (Heb 7:27) He offered himself as a ransom to set the sinners free from their sins (Heb 9:15). He entered the most Holy Place one for all by his own blood (Heb 9:12) and therefore does not have to enter heaven to offer himself again and again ((:25). He offered for all time to one sacrifice for the sins committed under the first covenant and remains seated at the right hand of God (Heb 10:12). The sacrifice He offered was for our redemption and not for His own sins (Heb 7:27). It had the effect of making us perfect (Heb 10:14) done once for all (Heb 7:27) without being needed to be offered day after day, year after year. The once for all sacrifices done by Jesus has the effect eternal redemption of humanity by setting us free from sin, giving us confidence to enter the very presence of God without fear of judgment or condemnation (Heb10:19). Hence the perfect, permanent, redeeming and holy sacrifice of Jesus calls us to approach it with clear conscience and full assurance of faith. Amen.