By: Father David Marcham on January 19th, 2023
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Today’s first sentence from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews caught me by surprise. I guess it’s because, like you, I’ve heard and read so many disclaimers for products and programs that promise us great health, pain relief, protection from computer viruses, etc. Then list a series of exceptions to these claims. However, St. Paul does not do that when he says, “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him since he lives forever to make intercession for them.”
The words “…always able…” and “lives forever” offer us such great hope, no matter where our loved ones or we find ourselves today. St. Paul doesn’t say Jesus has a limited offer of salvation that expires at the end of the month, so act now. (However, I’d recommend that we should act now!) Or that our salvation had to take place when Jesus walked this earth; instead, there’s a different message.
This second part, that Jesus lives forever, is a reminder of His divinity; and as we hear later in the letter that He is seated at the right hand of the Father. The original people who received this message from St. Paul would have been familiar with their own high priests offering sacrifices and prayers to God on their behalf. However, like any of us, these men would die, and their place with God would be unknown; thus, their ability to intercede on our behalf would also be uncertain.
At best, another man of God would take their place. What St. Paul is saying is a game-changer when it comes to faith in salvation—theirs and ours. Jesus is the One that they have been promised by God. He is the Messiah who is the Son of God and, therefore, the way to God the Father.
I love St. Paul’s style in this letter where after explaining the differences between the high priests before Jesus and “The High Priest,” comes the main point of this exchange: “We have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty [notice the capital “M”] in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man set up.”
Finally, St. Paul concludes by saying, “He [Jesus] is mediator of a better covenant (than of Moses and God), enacted on better promises.” My brothers and sisters, the Hebrews had a relationship with God rooted in Moses’ covenant with God. It couldn’t have been easy to make a leap of faith in Jesus being the One they had been waiting for, their Messiah. But God’s grace and St. Paul’s words inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus and the Holy Spirit moved our ancestors in the faith to place their hope in Jesus.
May we let St. Paul’s words sink deeply into our minds and hearts so that we might have that same movement toward and with Jesus throughout this day, believing that Jesus is able to save us if only we approach Him with whatever we are trying to sort out.
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!