Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Today's reading from the Letter to the Hebrews is one of my favorite passages from all of Scripture, Hebrew and Christian, Old and New Testament. For me, this passage stands as the clearest explanation of why we find ourselves in the "now but not yet." The sacred author tells us that we have been redeemed by Christ's sacrifice, but that salvation will not be complete until he returns again.
The annual ritual in which our Jewish brothers and sisters atone for their sins features the slaughter of a goat, the blood of which is then sprinkled on those assembled as well as on the "mercy seat" or Ark of the Covenant. The high priest enters the Holy of Holies alone to perform this ritual action. When he appears after completing it, he proclaims that God has forgiven them the sins of the past year.
Jesus' death has taken the place of the animal sacrifice. We have been washed clean in his blood. We are redeemed. Like the high priest, Jesus entered the sanctuary when he ascended to the Father. When he comes again, he will bring with him our salvation. While we have been washed clean, we will not realize the fullness of his sacrifice until he returns again. Obviously, we wait with all believers, both those with whom we live as well as those who have gone before us, for his return by which we will be saved.
CUSANS join with St. Paul who wrote in his Letter to the Colossians: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church. . . (Colossians 1:24) Well versed in Greek philosophy, St. Paul held that new eras in history were always preceded by a time of turmoil and affliction. By joining our sufferings to the crucified Savior, we hasten the day when the new era of salvation will dawn with the second coming of our Savior. This is precisely what we mean when we say, "We suffer for a purpose."