Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

The excerpts from the Letter to the Hebrews leaves us with an echoing call to holiness to be a priestly people.  The Second Vatican Council notably challenged a pervasive concept that holiness was reserved to the ecclesial hierarchy.  The Council Fathers asserted:

It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in whatever state or walk in life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity, and this holiness is conducive to a more human way of living even in society here on earth.[1]

Whatever the vocation—marriage, religious life, or single—a Christian is meant to become loving through God’s grace and faith, which is holiness.

The priesthood of the people is modeled after the priesthood of Jesus. Like the priests at the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus offers a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  He offers himself in the Passion as the atonement for the sins of the world.  As High priest, he becomes the access point between God and humanity.  The author of the letter runs against the norms around priestly life in ancient Jerusalem

To be a priest, a Jewish male had to be from the tribe of Levi. Jesus comes from a different tribe, the tribe of Judah.  For Jesus to be justified as a priest, he is justified through the strength of his life like the priest Melchizedek in Genesis.

The author writes, “It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so, not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.”  Melchizedek is proclaimed a priest forever before the tribe system was established, so Jesus is a priest like him by something other than hereditary lineage.  The strength of his faith, hope, and love of the Father embodied in his life is the justification for his priesthood.

This history lesson leaves us with a deeper personal question: how do we live our priestly vocation as a people, like Jesus, by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed?  What would holy boldness look like for us in our daily lives?  We are called every day to live as a priestly people that reveals what God is like through our actions and words.  Our holiness is a gift from God, but let us ask God to remove what impedes us from letting our holiness run its course in our lives.

What is my personal call to holiness from God?  What have been the fruits of holiness towards others and for me?  Where am I being asked to grow in faith, hope, and love?

[1] Second Vatican Council, “Lumen Gentiumin Vatican Council II: The Basic Sixteen Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, OP (Northport: Costello Publishing, 1996), [40].

January 18th, 2017