Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard from the Epistle to the Hebrews, about the meaning of the holy priesthood, as a vocation and calling for all those who have chosen to dedicate themselves and their whole lives to the Lord, and among these priests, God had chosen His high priests, those whom He entrusted with the leadership among the people, through whom He would exercise His power and authority, and through whose actions, the people would be absolved from their sins and be reconciled with God.
And unlike all the other high priests, which offered again and again for the sake of the people’s sins, God had appointed One to be the Eternal High Priest for all, and He is none other than Jesus Christ, the long promised Saviour of the whole world, the Divine Word of God Who was incarnate into the person of the Son of Man, through Mary His mother. It was through Him that God willed to make all of mankind, all those whom He loves, to be saved and liberated from their sins, that is from our sins.
While the high priests of old were told to sacrifice and offer the gifts of animal blood, fats and other sacrificial goods, the Lord showed them all that all these were incapable of offering complete and total reconciliation between mankind and their God. It is only the complete obedience of the Son of God, Who willingly offered Himself, through His Most Precious Body and Blood, that all of mankind are able to access the salvation which He guaranteed to all those who believe in Him.
In the Gospel today we heard about Jesus our Lord Who chided the Pharisees and the disciples of St. John the Baptist, who compared themselves to His own disciples, as those two groups did what was prescribed in the laws of the people of God as originally passed down to them from Moses, who received them from God. They questioned Jesus because they thought that it was improper for His disciples not following the commandments of the Law.
But in all that, there lies a misunderstanding of the true Law of God. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law in particular became obsessed with the minute details of the Law, in how they should be observed, to the smallest details. They were very particular in enforcing them, to the point that it was often they did not do them while knowing what was the original purpose of the Law of God.
Take for example, the practice of fasting, which was done to express mourning, grieving and also most importantly, the regret and the desire for repentance for one’s sins and wrongdoings. And yet, as Jesus mentioned in another part of the Gospels, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had used fasting as a pretext to advance their own interests and to make themselves look good before the people.
They paraded around, showing their fasting and other supposedly pious acts to be seen by others, so that they would be praised and gained prestige as well as fame among the people. But that was as we can see, not the intention of the Law. That is why Jesus came into this world, to straighten up all those who have erred and bent the purposes of the Law, revealing to them all the new path that He brought with Him.
That was what Jesus meant when He related to all of them the parable of the wine and the wineskins. Old wine is not meant to be put into a new wineskin, as they are incompatible with each other. The same applies to new wine that is placed into old wineskins. And Jesus also added up with another example, the parable of old cloth and new cloth. Old cloth cannot be used to patch up new cloth and vice versa.
It means that, the ways of the Lord are not compatible with the ways of the world. And similarly therefore, sin is incompatible with God, and indeed, sin is incompatible with all of us being Christians. We should not follow the example of those Pharisees who claimed to serve God, and yet in reality, they are serving only their own desires and purposes.
It is inappropriate for us all to call ourselves as Christians if we do not live a genuine Christian life through our actions and deeds. That is why, because our Lord Jesus had shown us the path that we ought to take in order to reach out to Him, and as also by His own obedience to the will of His Father, He as our Eternal High Priest had saved us all, therefore, all of us should also obey Him and walk in His ways.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on this, and think about what we as Christians are still able to do in our lives in order to have a Christ-like attitude and thus live a genuine Christian living. It is only then by our obedience to the Law and by following the examples of Christ that we will be true witnesses for our Lord, and many more people, both inside and outside the Church, will come to believe in the Lord as well, and be saved together with us.
May the Lord be with us all in our journey of life, and may He strengthen the faith inside each and every one of us, that we may emulate in full faith, the examples of our High Priest, Who is also our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, for our salvation and the redemption of the whole world. God bless us all. Amen.