During these last weeks of the Church’s Year the second readings at Sunday Mass come from the Letter to the Hebrews.
This Sunday, the 30th of the Year, the reading was the following:
Every high priest has been taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins; and so he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or uncertain because he too lives in the limitations of weakness. That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honour on himself, but each one is called by God, as Aaron was. Nor did Christ give himself the glory of becoming high priest, but he had it from the one who said to him: You are my son, today I have become your father, and in another text: You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.
Jesus was without sin – like us in all things but sin, Hebrews 4:15ff assured us – but with his people he offered sacrifice for sin. The text tells us this was for himself as well as for us, so close was/is his association with us.
Mary was preserved from all sin from her conception, from the first moment of her life. Jesus by virtue of his nature as God and Man could not sin – but he took our sinfulness to himself, not even letting the guilt and shame and hurt of sin separate us from him. So the self-righteous among his contemporaries would reject him, the Holy One of God, as a sinner among sinners, blasphemous, and kill him.
The way of the Lord is to embrace weakness, endure misrepresentation, and help the floundering to the firm ground of God’s love and truth.
- What weakness in you does the Lord long to minister to?
- How can you show solidarity today with those who struggle?
Image of Jesus from the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Wolverhampton. (C) 2015, Allen Morris.
The Gospels regularly present us with the fallibility of Peter.
The gospel chosen for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, kept yesterday in England and Wales, presents Peter in a better light.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’
Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. Quick as a flash Jesus makes a profession of faith and purpose regarding Peter.
Which of them was the most surprised at what they heard?
Both find in this exchange a description of their mission to the world – Jesus sent by the Father to be saviour of the world. Peter the one entrusted with ensuring that the message of salvation is made known to the world.
Master and servant are united in common purpose.
- Pray for Pope Francis, successor of St Peter, for his faithfulness in continuing the ministry entrusted to him.
- Pray for the whole Church for its steadfastness and humility in its service of teh world.
Jesus saving Peter from sinking. St Peter’s Church, Wolverhampton.
(c) 2015, Allen Morris.
The second reading this Sunday, the 6th in Ordinary time, comes this week as last, from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.
Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
In our day it is rare that what Christians eat or drink bears the cultic weight that food and drink did at the time of Paul – with certain foods clean/unclean for Jews; certain foods brough to market after being the subject of sacrificial offering.
But there are many other things we do that may be offensive to others. The publication of certain cartoons comes to mind.
- How do you moderate your behaviour for the sake of others? For love of others?
- Where and when do others do the same for you?
Photograph of stained glass window depicting St Paul, in St Peter’s church, Wolverhampton. (C) 2015, Allen Morris.