By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Homily for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - on the Epistle
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Jesus Christ versus Other High Priests

Deuteronomy 6:2-6 Hebrews 7:23-28 Mark 12:28-34

During the American Civil War, a young soldier who had lost his father and older brother in the war went to Washington, D.C. to see if he could get an exemption from military service. As the only surviving male in the family, he wanted to go back home and help his mother and sister with cultivating the field, which only men could do. When he approached the White House and asked to see the president, he was turned away by security guards. The soldier, dejected, went and sat down on a park bench nearby, unsure what else to do.

Soon after, a little boy approached him and said, "You look unhappy, soldier. What's wrong?" The soldier told his story. Then the little boy took him by the hand, and led him through the back door of the White House, past the guards, and into the president's office. President Lincoln looked up and asked, "What can I do for you, Tad?" Tad said, "Daddy, this soldier needs to talk to you." The soldier was not turned away. The president listened to his story and granted his request without delay.

Many people today think that it does not matter what god you pray to because every deity is ultimately the same deity, worshipped in different names by different people. There is an element of truth to this. The different natural religions in the world are as a result of the human groping for God in the darkness of the human condition. But Christianity, by the fact of the incarnation, is not a natural religion. It is a revealed religion. Christianity did not come about as a result of humans searching for God, but rather of God searching for us humans. In the fulness of time, God sent into the world, not a prophet, not an angel, but His own Son, His only begotten Son, to show us the way to Him.

In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; 2 in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe (Hebrews 1:1-2)

What sets Jesus apart from other founders of religion, priests and prophets, is the fact that he is God's own Son. More than anyone that has walked this earth, he knows the mind of God, whom he calls Abba, Daddy. Like Tad, the President's son in our story, he can most easily and most assuredly bring us into God's presence.

The Letter to the Hebrews compares the one son, Jesus, to the many priests of the old covenant. Following our analogy, we can compare the priests of the old covenant and of other religions to the security guards. They can bring us to see the President but it takes more time, more protocol, and less certainty that we will eventually see him. With His Son Jesus, access to God is less complicated and virtually assured.

Add to the fact that Jesus is God's only begotten Son the equally important fact that he lives forever, and you will understand his role as the unique and eternal high priest as presented in today's second reading.

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)

As a body, Christians in the world today have a problem. We have a problem of low self esteem. We underrate ourselves. We do not appreciate how chosen and how special we are as followers of God's only Son. We compare ourselves with people who live by the light of nature and reason alone. We forget to see that of all humankind, we are supposed to be the most godly, the most loving, the most enlightened, the most generous, the most understanding, the most forgiving, the most non-violent and peaceable, the most shining samples of God's image and likeness available in the world. Today, we are invited to begin to see ourselves for what we truly are, by God's grace, and to let God work in us and through us, for the greater glory of His name, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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