How many times do we need to remind ourselves that Jesus promised to be with us and His Church until the end of time? “We have never forgotten it,” you say, but is there a possibility that we, without forgetting it, might take it for granted and, in the process, not remember the key significance of His promise?
Moses’ words in the first reading are direct: “Fear the Lord, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all His statutes and commandments.” It is not for God’s benefit that we fear Him, that we recognize His omnipotence, His generosity, His love and His creativity. It is for our benefit that we daily put Him first in our lives. When we put Him first by keeping His statutes and commandments, we keep ourselves close to Him and, in the words of Jesus, “are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
There is another aspect of this reality that comes through in the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews. The author—we think it is Paul but are not absolutely sure—delves into the mystery of the priesthood as understood before Christ and as changed by Christ. The Levitical priests of old were descendants of Aaron as commissioned by God at Mt. Sinai. They offered sacrifices on behalf of the people. Christ, as High Priest, does not offer animal sacrifices. His IS the sacrifice and the Priest and the Altar as declared in the fifth preface during the Easter season.
The ministerial priesthood of today is not an inheritance based on family; it is a calling, a vocation. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (Jn. 15:16). At ordination, the priest receives the Spirit of Christ in a special way. He is the person of Christ in heaven made present on earth. In this way, as well, we “are not far from the Kingdom of God.”