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30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Jeremiah 31:7-9
Psalm 126:1-6
Hebrews 5:1-6
Mark 10:46-52
October 25, 2015

Today we hear of Jesus doing another miracle healing.  This time it is the healing of Bartimaeus who is blind.  Without a doubt this is a wonderful thing for Bartimaeus but is it all Jesus is for us, a healer?

Jesus is indeed a healer.  He is also a teacher and a preacher, helping us to know how God calls us to live.  Jesus reveals God’s will to us.  His role as teacher and preacher is as important as his role as healer.

Yet these are not the central title used in the Letter to the HebrewsHebrews describes Jesus as the high priest.  Yet we know Jesus never took on the role of priest in the Temple.  We never see Jesus take on the role of priest until his death.  Even then it is not in the role of priest as called for in the Old Testament.

What is the role of a priest?  There are many facets to what a priest did back then and what a priest does today.  Ultimately the word is rooted in one who offers sacrifice.

In the Old Testament this was the sacrifice of animals that the priest made on behalf of the people.  As Hebrews points out the priests had the same weaknesses as other humans and had to make sacrifices for themselves as well as for others.  Priests are not perfect.  I am not perfect. That’s why I go to Confession too.

So, in Jesus’ day, the priests were continuing to offer the animal sacrifices in the Temple.  Yet, this is not the sacrifice that Jesus offered for us.  Jesus did not sacrifice animals.  Jesus was not a priest.  Jesus is the priest.  What is his sacrifice?

It is the sacrifice of his own life on the Cross.  It is by this sacrifice that Jesus fulfills what Jeremiah spoke of “The Lord has delivered his people.”  It is by the sacrifice of his own life that Jesus sets us free from our sins, restoring us to what we were created for.

Jesus is a healer, a preacher, and a teacher but we can only truly understand who Jesus is when we see him on the Cross.  This is why that throughout the early parts of Mark’s Gospel Jesus keeps saying for others not to tell people who he is.  It cannot be understood until they seem him crucified.

The sacrifices of the Old Testament had to be repeated over and over as the people continued to sin.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross never needs to be repeated.  Jesus’ sacrifice is a perfect sacrifice just as he is perfect.  There is no new need for a new sacrifice.

Yet, we still have priests today.  I know because I am one.  If there is no new sacrifice offered after Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, what does a priest do today?

As a priest, I offer the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Anointing of the Sick.  I teach and I preach.  As pastor, I lead.  There is another sacrament over which I preside as a priest.  It is the Eucharist.

Our celebration of the Eucharist includes a sacrifice.  I said before that there is no new sacrifice after Jesus so how can the Eucharist be a sacrifice?

It is a sacrifice but not a new sacrifice.  It is not a reenactment like a play of what Jesus did.  The sacrifice we offer today in our celebration of the Eucharist is the same sacrifice that Jesus offered 2,000 years ago.

God makes present today what Jesus did on the Cross and at the Last Supper.  What did Jesus say at the Last Supper?  This is my Body which will be given up for you.  This is my blood that will be shed for you.

The Eucharist and the Crucifixion are one event along with the Resurrection.  They must all be understand in light of each other.

Where does leave me as a priest?  I preside over the sacraments by which we receive God’s grace but it is God who really makes it all happen.  A priest today is the visible sign that God gives us to see him at work in our lives.  God does this for us.  In our humanness we need physical signs to see God at work in our lives.  God works through “things” in the Sacraments like water, oil, and transubstantiates the bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood.  God does this all through a human priest to be a sign of what he does for us.

That is why being a priest is a calling.  It is not just a job one chooses on their one to do.  It is God who chooses his priests.

I am a priest.  Jesus is the priest.

 

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