Monday, 18 January 2021 : 2nd Week of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in our Scripture readings today we heard first of all the continuation of the discourse on the High Priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, highlighting the role of the Lord Jesus that He took in order to bring the people of God to salvation through Him and His ultimate loving sacrifice on the Cross.

The author first began by highlighting the role that priests had in those days, as according to the law of God revealed through Moses, the priests were to offer sacrifices for the sake of the people, for many purposes. But those sacrifices were especially meant as means for mankind to be reconciled with God, for through those sacrifices, God would then forgive the people their sins. The priests interceded for the sake of the people as they offered the sacrifices on the Altar.

However, those sacrifices, which involved the offering of slaughtered animals like lambs and doves, were not permanent and lasting, and the priests had to offer the sacrifices again and again for themselves as well as for the people, for all were sinners and fell again and again into the traps and temptations to sin. And therefore the priests had continued offering the sacrifices for the people’s sins for all the centuries right up to the time of Jesus and His ministry.

The Epistle to the Hebrews directed at the believers from among the Jews and the Jewish people in general explained that with His coming, the Lord Jesus has brought about the perfection of the old Law, by revealing Himself as the one and Eternal true High Priest for all of us. He is the High Priest Who offered the one and final offering for the sake of our salvation, and by His offering, He has opened the path for all of us to reach God’s grace and everlasting love.

The Lord Jesus offered not the blood and sacrifice of animals on the Altar like what the priests had done earlier. Instead, He as the High Priest, was also the sacrificial Lamb of offering, the Paschal Lamb that was slain for us on the Altar of the Cross, when the Lord bore His Cross to Calvary and died, shedding His Precious Body and Blood for the sake of all of us. From the Cross, He lifted up that perfect and most worthy offering to His heavenly Father, completing once and for all the redemption of all mankind.

This is what we have heard from the Gospel passage today as well. In that passage we heard the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who argued with the Lord and asked Him why He and His disciples did not fast as stipulated by the laws of God revealed through Moses, which the Pharisees and the disciples of St. John the Baptist did. And then, the Lord said that He was revealing the truth about all things, and using the parable of the wine and wineskin, the new and old piece of cloth, He told them all of the new way that He Himself was about to show them.

That parable of the wine and the wineskin, as well as the parable of the new and old pieces of cloth spoke of the incompatibility between old and new ways, the old and new practices. The Lord was highlighting the differences between the way that the Law used to be practiced and interpreted, and preserved by the Pharisees, and the truth that He had then brought to the midst of the people.

The Lord has made a New and everlasting Covenant with each and every one of us, as our one and true Eternal High Priest. No longer that the sin offerings and animal sacrifices need to be made, for the Lord Himself has offered the perfect offering to the Lord, His own Self, as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, slaughtered and made to die on the Altar of the Cross. And by His own Precious Blood, He sealed this New Covenant between God and us mankind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard today’s readings, let us all first of all be grateful of the great love that the Lord has for each and every one of us, that for our sake, He willingly went through the worst of sufferings, and picked up upon Himself our punishment, that through His Passion, suffering and death on the Cross, He may free us all from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of death, and by sharing in His Resurrection, we too may enter into the glorious new existence and life in Him.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to guide us on our journey of faith, at all times. May all of us grow ever stronger in faith and our love of the Lord, so that no matter what happens, we will be ever faithful and be good witnesses of our Christian faith, our love for God, in our communities, as shining beacons and examples of the truth of God, now and always. Amen.

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