Today’s reading: Hebrews 7
Today’s chapter focus’ on the similarity of Jesus to the Old Testament figure Melchizedek. After describing the figure the author points out that Melchizedek was not a priest by ancestry, i.e., by birth into a particular tribe. Since the Levitical priesthood could not bring about perfection a new priest in the order of Melchizedek was needed. Jesus is the new high priest.
What comes next is something that is often wrestled with. The chapter concludes:
He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Hebrews 7:27
This verse is used to try and argue against the Mass. The argument being that the Mass can’t be a sacrifice because the sacrifice of Jesus is made “once and for all”. However, this understanding must be reconciled with the preceding verse:
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25
How is the intercession made for those that, “draw near to God through him” [Jesus]? For a Catholic, this is a simple answer. Jesus is not re-sacrificed but the benefits of his once and for all sacrifice are applied to the individual soul that draws near to God. Notice, verse 25 is describing individual souls and an action that is taking place in time as different people draw near to God through Jesus. Catholics absolutely agree and profess that the sacrifice is made “once and for all” and at Mass we participate in the one sacrifice as Jesus “always lives to make intercession” for us.
Tomorrow: Hebrews 8