Reflection Saturday Week 2 (Year C) Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Heb 9:2-3, 11-14, Ps 47:2-3, 6-9 and Mark 3:20-21.
Christ is the Entrance and the Way to Salvation
When we build a house, a school or a church we make room for doors and entrances. We want to look at religion that way. It is an access to God. It brings each of us to God’s presence which is eternal. This is what we do when we gather in the church, in the chapel. We want to worship God. We want offer the sacrifice of Mass of the new covenant through which we have access to God. The sacrifice of Christ!
The earthly sanctuary and the imperfect sacrifice of the old covenant are lower than the heavenly sanctuary and the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Drawing his sources from Exodus 25-26 and Leviticus 16 the author to the Hebrews reminds us what furnishing of the two parts of the ancient tabernacle looked like. Usually the outer or the external part of the tent known as a Holy Place, consisted of a lamp stand, a table and the bread of offering.
In front of the inner part known as Holy of Holies was a veil which was made of fine, twined linen, embroidered in scarlet and purple and blue and with cherubim upon it. Only the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to atone for his sins and the sins of the community.
In side this Holy of Holies stood the Ark of the Covenant on the gold alter, incense, a fold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff, and the tablets of God’s covenant with Moses. In fact the most important feature of this inner tent was the place of expiation called the Mercy Seat- a place that must be sprinkled with the blood by the high priest on this Day of Atonement( Lev 16:14-15 and Rom 3:25).
In biblical theology blood has always been seen as a symbol of life. It is an agent of purification. Its sprinkling washes away the past sins of the people including the sins of the high priest. This ritual was supposed to prepare the people to encounter God in the New Year.
For the Epistle to the Hebrews the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is greater and more effective. The ancient tabernacle was designed to bring people to God. But this is not enough. The coming of Jesus really brought us into the presence of God, because in him God entered this world of space and time in human form and to see Jesus is to see God. The sacrifices of the old covenant cleansed people’s body from ceremonial uncleanness; the sacrifice of Jesus cleansed people's souls. The sacrifice of Christ is moral. It touches our consciences and enables us to worship the living God, thereby bringing us eternal redemption. It makes us holy, a chosen people, a people truly set apart.
The sacrifice of Christ was spontaneous, while animal sacrifices of he old law was the product of law. The sacrifice of Christ was a product of love, no mechanism of law but a choice of love beyond human reasoning, even beyond the reasoning of his own relative.
From his life, preaching and teaching ministries, the healing and miracles he brought to bear, it was clear that Christ was beyond mere humanity. His death seems like earthly events, but has heavenly implications. By his glorification- life, death, resurrection and ascension Christ has opened for us a new way to the Father.
There are so many ways we can serve as doors and entrance that leads people to Christ: through acts of charity, modesty in what we eat, drink, wear and say, and through other forms of exemplary living and holiness of life.