Fifth Sunday of Lent
T he Biblical literature from the Old to New Testament is entailed with some descriptive metaphors, a type of figures of speech by which a term is applied to something totally different. Today one of the metaphors I propose to look at is about Jesus as the high priest presented in the letter to the Hebrews. The author identified Jesus as the high priest of the order of Melchizedech. First question we should ask ourselves is: “What does that mean”?
Everyone in Nazareth knows Jesus or at least understands that he was highly knowledgeable of the Jewish tradition. However no one can ever attest he was part of the tribe of Judah neither a Levite. Being said He was not literally a priest. His presence in the temple of Jerusalem has never been as he was performing or serving as priest beside the rhetoric and controversial attitude he has shown when he drove people out of the Temple. So what does mean “high priest of the order of Melchizedech”? This powerful metaphor borrowed from the psalm 110:4 expressed the whole reality of Jesus ministry of sanctifying the whole world through the sacrifice of himself. The Old Testament presents the high priest performed the ritual of the Day of Atonement and the New Testament Jesus is viewed as the mediator between God and the people. Through the sacrifice of Himself he is facilitating reconciliation between human being and God. This ultimate sacrifice brings salvation to humankind. So, his death on the cross is for the expiation of our sins and the whole world.
Both human and divine commonly known as the great mystery of incarnation make Jesus highly qualify to be the mediator since that function entailed necessary an act of obedience and dependence on God. To really understand Jesus as the high priest, the mediator, we ought to understand his humanity. Gethsemane and the Cross are essentially among those moments that show us how he endured or sensed in his humanity. His words in Saint John Gospel: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” definitely reflected his agony and his total trust to God the Father. Through his suffering he really experienced the human misery and by suffering he grows in solidarity with human beings and makes salvation accessible to all.
As the second reading tells us, we were dead through our sins. We may have continued to walk around as though we are alive. However, we were, in fact, already dead. We were trapped in our selfishness and our lives revolving only around our own narrow concerns and interests. We are unable to find release. Like the exiled Israelites of the first reading, we needed a savior. Jesus was sent for us. He was lifted up on the wood of the cross just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.
This great Jewish metaphor reminds us all Christians living in today’s world that Jesus really became one of us. “His humanity is real and the choice he makes on our behalf is freely chosen”. His desire is to connect us with the divinity to experience the unconditional love of God the Father.
Rev. Ducasse François
Jesus teaches his disciples about the way in which
he will glorified by God, and a voice from
heaven is heard to affirm his teaching