Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reflection Wednesday Week 2 (Year C) Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Reflection Wednesday Week 2 (Year C) Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Heb 7:1-3, 15-17; Ps 110:1-4 and Mark 3:1-6

The Priesthood of Christ according to the Order of Melchizedek

The readings of today especially the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us of who Jesus is. And the type of priest that he is. He is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. In the OT Melchizedek appears only in Genesis 14:17-20 and Psalm 110:4. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews uses these two texts to demonstrate the superiority of the eternal character of the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Talking about Melchizedek in the Genesis story he is a strange fellow. He arrives from nowhere. There is no documentation about his life, his birth, hid death and his descent. He has no genealogy. He simply arrives and gives Abraham bread and wine and blesses him and Abraham gives a 10th of his spoiled, tithe to Mechizedek who had just blessed him.
The mystery of this text is that the writer to the Hebrews found in Melchezidek the symbol of Christ. Melchizedek from his name was a Righteous= Malek Saddiq= Righteous King. King of where? King of Salem, meaning King of Peace.

The wordings here are significant. Righteousness precedes peace. Without righteousness it is difficult to find peace. Didn’t Paul say in Romans 5:1 “therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace (shalom) with God through our Lord Jesus through whom we have gained access.” In Romans 14:17 it is also stated that, “for the kingdom of God is not a matte of food, and drink, but Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit” You notice the order is always Righteousness and Peace.

Life is a longing for peace? And where do we go for peace? Which way” way of pretence, alcohol, drugs  or the way of Righteousness? The way of Melchizedek a type of Christ brings us Peace. Christ is the prince of peace (shalom).

No wonder he blesses Abraham whom we had always thought to be the father of our faith. Jesus is even superior to Abraham. Usually, the superior figure blesses the inferior figure in Judaism! And of course usually all other tribes by Jewish customs were supposed to pay tithe for the upkeep of the priestly tribe of Levi. Here ironically, Abraham pays tithe to Melchizedek, the type of Christ, a symbolism of Christ’s superiority to Abraham.

Christ is not only superior but his priesthood is eternal, sung in Psalm 110 verse 4 “you are a priest forever in the order of Melchizdek.”  It is a priesthood built on righteousness. The priesthood of Christ unlike the Aaronic priesthood is not based on “where is here from,.” It is not based on tribe. It is not based on politics or legality. But it is based on love and compassion. It is based on God’s promises, those oaths, those promises God had promised us even from the time of Abraham. It is a priesthood that radiates blessings and prosperity. It is personal and royal priesthood. It is eternal and peaceful and comes with God’s healing mercies.

No wonder Jesus as he entered the synagogue in today’s Gospel (Mark 3:1-6) he performed his priestly ministry by restoring peace and healing to the man who had a withered hand.

As we search for blessings, peace and prosperity this day in our studies, in our formation, in our jobs, teachings, counseling and other ministries, let us know that Christ the High Priest and the source of  all our needs is patiently waiting for us. He is a priest according the order of Melchizedek.