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The Suffering High Priest

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

We have reached the point in the letter to the Hebrews in which the sacred writer presents his thesis that Jesus is the new and eternal high priest. He goes through a lengthy comparison of the high priest's role in Judaism and how Jesus has fulfilled this role even though he is not of the tribe of Levi. All the priests of Judaism were taken from the tribe of Jacob's son, Levi. Jesus, of the tribe of Judah and was, consequently, not eligible for the priesthood under the Law.

The sacred writer, however, advances the notion that because Jesus fulfilled the role of the priest he is the logical successor to this role. It is yet another example of how the old covenant has been supplanted by the new. The role of the high priest was to offer sacrifices to secure salvation for the people of Israel. Jesus, through the sacrifice of his own body and blood on the cross, has extended that salvation to all people, including the Gentiles.

Jesus did not take this role upon himself, but he rather accepted the role out of obedience to the will of the One who sent him. Through his obedience, he broke the curse of the disobedience of Adam. Since through Adam all sinned, in Jesus all are justified.

We give thanks for the gift of such a high priest who has won our salvation through suffering. Through suffering, CUSANS unite themselves to the crucified Savior and continue to offer sacrifice for the sake of the Church and the world.

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