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To: All

From: Hebrews 9:11-15

Christ Sealed the New Covenant with His Blood Once and for All


[11] But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,
then through the greater and more perfect tents (not made with hands, that is, not
of this creation) [12] he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the
blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
[13] For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and
with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, [14] how much
more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself with-
out blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living
God.

15] Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called
may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which
redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenants.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

11-14. The sacrifices of the Old Law could only promise ephemeral benefits,
whereas Christ’s redemptive sacrifice obtained for man, once and for all, “the
good things to come”, that is, the heavenly and eternal benefits proper to the
messianic age—sanctifying grace and entry to heaven. Like the high priest on the
Day of Atonement, Christ entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, through the
curtain. This sanctuary which he entered is the heavenly one; that is why it is
“greater and more perfect” and not made by men (cf. 8:2). Christ passed through
the heavens into the very presence of the Father (cf. 7:26) and is seated in hea-
ven at his right hand (cf. 8:1).

Many Fathers, Doctors of the Church and modern scholars see the expression
“through the greater and more perfect tent” as referring to the sacred humanity of
our Lord, virginally conceived in the womb of Mary, that is, “not made with hands”.
The tent or tabernacle would be our Lord’s body, in which the Godhead dwells.
The text then says that it is “not of this creation”, because Jesus as man was
conceived without the action of a man and without original sin: he did not follow
“the law of nature which holds sway in the created world” (Theodoret, “Interpreta-
tio Ep. ad Hebraeos, ad loc.”). In this case the inspired text would be saying that
Christ redeemed us by means of his human nature (cf. v. 12). However, the words
“through the greater and more perfect tent” can also be understood as referring to
heaven, in the sense of a greater and more perfect sanctuary. In any event, whe-
ther by passing through the heavens or through his most sacred body, Christ
achieved Redemption by offering his own blood. This does not have a temporary
value—like the blood of animals shed each year when the priest entered the Holy
of Holies: Jesus secured eternal Redemption. In the Old Law the Jews were
cleansed by the blood of sacrificed animals from legal impurities which prevented
them from taking part in the liturgy; but Christ’s blood does so much more, for it
cleanses man of his sins. “Do you want to know how effective the blood of Christ
is? Let us go back to the symbols which foretold it and remind ourselves of the
ancient accounts of (the Jews in) Egypt. Moses told them to kill a year-old lamb
and put its blood on the two doorposts and the lintel of each house [...]. Would
you like an additional way to appreciate the power of Christ’s blood? See where
it flowed from, what its source is. It began to flow from the very Cross and its
source was the Lord’s side. For, as the Gospel says, when our Lord was already
dead, one of the soldiers went up to him with a lance and pierced his side and at
once there came out water and blood—water, the symbol of Baptism; blood, the
symbol of the Eucharist. The soldier pierced his side, he opened a breach in the
wall of the holy temple, and there I discover the hidden treasure and I rejoice at
the treasure I have found” (Chrysostom, “Baptismal Catechesis”, III, 13-19).

And so the Church includes in the prayers it recommends to be said after Mass,
one which reads: “I beseech thee, most sweet Lord Jesus, may your passion be
the virtue which strengthens, protects and defends me; your wounds, food and
drink to nourish, inebriate and delight me; your death, everlasting life for me; your
cross, my eternal glory” (”Roman Missal of St Pius V”, recommended prayer of
thanksgiving after Mass).

12. “Thus securing an eternal redemption”: the Greek text uses “having found”,
here translated as “securing”. St John Chrysostom points out that the verb “to
find” in this context has a shade of meaning that implies finding something unex-
pected: the reference is to finding, “as it were, something very unknown and very
unexpected” (”Hom. on Heb, ad loc.”). However, taking into account the whole
context and the possible Hebraic background of the expression, the verb “to find”
is synonymous with “to search keenly, to reach, to attain”: in other words, Christ
eagerly sought to redeem man and he did so by his sacrifice. The verse refers to
an “eternal” redemption, in contrast to the provisional nature of Mosaic sacrifices.

13. These words refer to a ceremony of purification described in the Old Testa-
ment (cf. Num 19). To cleanse a person from certain transgressions of the Law,
the Israelites could avail of certain expiatory ablutions. There were done with wa-
ter mixed with the ashes of a heifer, which the high priest had sacrificed in front
of the tabernacle and then burned in its entirety. Into the fire cedar-wood, hyssop
and scarlet wool (9:19) had also to be thrown. Thus lustral water was only useful
for legal purification or “purification of the flesh”, as distinct from purification of
the spirit.

14. The Messiah acts “through the eternal Spirit”, which may be taken as a refe-
rence to the Holy Spirit, as St Thomas, for example, interprets it: “Christ shed
his blood, because the Holy Spirit did so; that is to say, it was by the Spirit’s in-
fluence and prompting, that is, out of love of God and love of neighbor, that he
did what he did. For it is the Spirit who purifies” (”Commentary on Heb, ad loc.”).

Bl. John Paul II referred to this text to show the presence of the Holy Spirit in
the redemptive sacrifice of the Incarnate Word: “In the sacrifice of the Son of
Man the Holy Spirit is present and active just as he acted in Jesus’ conception,
in his coming into the world, in his hidden life and in his public ministry. Accor-
ding to the Letter to the Hebrews, on the way to his ‘departure’ through Gethse-
mani and Golgotha, the same “Jesus Christ” in his own humanity “opened him-
self totally” to this “action of the Spirit-Paraclete”, who from suffering enables
eternal salvific love to spring forth” (”Dominum et Vivificantem”, 40).

The Son of God desired that the Holy Spirit should turn his death into a perfect
sacrifice. Only Christ “in his humanity was worthy to become this sacrifice, for
“he alone” was ‘without blemish’ (Heb 9:14). But he offered it ‘through the eternal
Spirit’, which means that the Holy Spirit acted in a special way in this absolute
self-giving of the Son of Man, in order to transform this suffering into redemptive
love” (”ibid.”).

It is also possible that “the eternal Spirit” is a more general reference to the God-
head present in Christ; in which case it would be the same as saying that Christ,
being God and man, offered himself as an unblemished victim and therefore this
offering was infinitely efficacious. Thus, as Pius XII says, Christ “labored uncea-
singly by prayer and self-sacrifice for the salvation of souls until, hanging on the
Cross, he offered himself as a victim unblemished in God’s sight, that he might
purify our consciences and set them free from lifeless observances to serve the
living God. All men were thus rescued from the path of ruin and perdition and set
once more on the way to God, to whom they were now to give due glory by co-
operating personally in their sanctification, making their own the holiness that
springs from the blood of the unspotted Lamb” (”Mediator Dei”, 1).

Christ’s sacrifice purifies us completely, thereby rendering us fit to worship the li-
ving God. As St Alphonsus puts it, “Jesus Christ offered himself to God pure and
without the trace of a fault; otherwise he would not have been a worthy mediator,
would not have been capable of reconciling God and sinful man, nor would his
blood have had the power to purify and cleanse our conscience from ‘dead works’,
that is, from sins which are given that name because (our) works are in no way
meritorious or else are worthy of eternal punishment. ‘So that you might serve
the living God”’ (”Reflections on the Passion”, 9, 2).

15-22. The covenant is shown to be new because it has been ratified by the
death and by the shedding of the blood of the testator or mediator. “Man, having
fallen into sin, was in debt to divine justice and was the enemy of God. The Son
of God came into the world and clothed himself in human flesh; being both God
and man he became the mediator between man and God, the representative of
both sides, so as to restore peace between them and obtain divine grace for man,
giving himself as an offering to pay man’s debt with his blood and his death. This
reconciliation was prefigured in the Old Testament in all the sacrifices that were
offered in that period and in all the symbols which God ordained—the tabernacle,
the altar, the veil, the lampstand, the thurible and the ark where the rod of Aaron
and the tables of the Law were kept. All these were a sign and type of the Pro-
mised redemption; and it was because that redemption would come about
through the blood of Christ that God specified the blood of animals—a symbol of
the blood of the divine Lamb—and laid it down that all the symbolic objects men-
tioned above should be sprinkled with blood: ‘Hence even the first Covenant was
not ratified without blood”’ (”ibid.”, 9, 2).

For a third time Christ is stated to be the mediator of a New Covenant. Hebrews
7:22 and 8:6 say that he is the mediator of a better covenant because it can give
eternal life. Here, as in 12:24, it is explained that Christ is the mediator of a New
Covenant, ratified by blood which gives an eternal inheritance. The emphasis is
on the sacrificial aspect: Christ is the mediator insofar as he is the atoning victim
and at the same time the offerer of the sacrifice: in his sacrifice he is both priest
and victim. “Christ is priest indeed; but he is priest for us, not for himself. It is in
the name of the whole human race that he offers prayer and acts of human reli-
gious homage to his Eternal Father. He is likewise victim; but victim for us, since
he substitutes himself for guilty mankind. Now the Apostle’s exhortation, ‘Yours
is to be the same mind as Christ Jesus showed ‘ (Phil 2:5), requires all Chris-
tians, so far as human power allows, to reproduce in themselves the sentiments
that Christ had when he was offering himself in sacrifice—sentiments of humility,
of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving to the divine Majesty. It requires them also
to become victims, as it were; cultivating a spirit of self-denial according to the
precepts of the Gospel, willingly doing works of penance, detesting and expia-
ting their sins” (”Mediator Dei”, 22).

Christ’s sacrifice is not only effective to forgive our sins; it is a manifestation of
our Redeemer’s love for us and it sets an example which we should follow. “And
if God forgives us our sins it is so that we might use the time that remains to us
in his service and love. And the Apostle concludes, saying, ‘Therefore he is the
mediator of a new covenant.’ Our Redeemer, captivated by his boundless love for
us, chose to rescue us, at the cost of his blood, from eternal death; and he suc-
ceeded in doing so, for if we serve him faithfully until we die we shall obtain from
the Lord forgiveness and eternal life. Such were the terms of the testament, me-
diation or compact between Jesus Christ and God” (”Reflections on the Passion”,
9, 2).

15-17. As the RSV note points out the Greek word can be translated as either
“covenant” or “will”. The context and the parallel with the covenant of Sinai sug-
gest the idea of covenant or pact, since the covenant with the chosen people
was an unilateral pact, that is, a concession granted by God; however, it too can
also be taken in a broad sense as a “will”. Both the word “mediator” and the word
“testator” (the one who makes the will) applied here to Christ serve to emphasize
that his death needed to involve the shedding of blood. His is a death whereby we
are called to “receive the promised eternal inheritance”: “The work of our Redemp-
tion has been accomplished. We are now children of God, because Jesus has
died for us and his death has ransomed us. “Empti enim estis pretio magno!” (1
Cor 6:20), you and I have been bought at a great price.

“We must bring into our life, to make them our own, the life and death of Chri
We must die through mortification and penance, so that Christ may live in us
through Love. And then follow in the footsteps of Christ, with a zeal to co-redeem
all mankind” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way of the Cross”, XIV).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 06/06/2015 8:55:38 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Mark 14:12-16; 22-26

Preparations for the Last Supper


[12] And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover
lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to
eat the passover?” [13] And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go
into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, [14] and
wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my
guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ [15] And he will
show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” [16]
And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them;
and they prepared the passover.

The institution of the Eucharist


[22] And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave
it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” [23] And he took a cup, and when
he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. [24] And he said
to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. [25]
Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day
when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

[26] And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

12-16. At first sight our Lord’s behaviour described here seems quite out of char-
acter. However, if we think about it, it is quite consistent: probably Jesus wanted
to avoid Judas knowing in advance the exact place where the Supper will be held,
to prevent him notifying the Sanhedrin. And so God’s plans for that memorable
night of Holy Thursday were fulfilled: Judas was unable to advise the Sanhedrin
where they could find Jesus until after the celebration of the passover meal (dur-
ing which Judas left the Cenacle): cf. Jn 13:30.

St Mark describes in more detail than the other evangelists the place where the
meal took place: he says it was a large, well-appointed room — a dignified place.
There is an ancient Christian tradition that the house of the Cenacle was owned
by Mary the mother of St Mark, to whom, it seems, the Garden of Olives also
belonged.

22. The word “this” does not refer to the act of breaking the bread but to the
“thing” which Jesus gives his disciples, that is, something which looked like
bread and which was no longer bread but the body of Christ. “This is my body.
That is to say, what I am giving you now and what you are taking is my body.
For the bread is not only a symbol of the body of Christ; it becomes his very bo-
dy, as the Lord has said: the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is
my flesh. Therefore, the Lord conserves the appearances of bread and wine but
changes the bread and wine into the reality of his flesh and his blood” (Theophy-
lact, “Enarratio in Evangelium Marci”, in loc.). Therefore, any interpretation in
the direction of symbolism or metaphor does not fit the meaning of the text. The
same applies to the “This is my blood” (v. 24). On the realism of these expres-
sions, see the first part of the note on Mt 26:26-29.

24. The words of consecration of the chalice clearly show that the Eucharist is a
sacrifice: the blood of Christ is poured out, sealing the new and definitive Cove-
nant of God with men. This Covenant remains sealed forever by the sacrifice of
Christ on the cross, in which Jesus is both Priest and Victim. The Church has
defined this truth in these words: “If anyone says that in the Mass a true and
proper sacrifice is not offered to God, or that to be offered is nothing else but that
Christ is given us to eat, let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, “De S. Missae
sacrificio”, chap. 1, can. 1).

These words pronounced over the chalice must have been very revealing for the
apostles, because they show that the sacrifices of the Old Covenant were in fact
a preparation for and anticipation of Christ’s sacrifice. The apostles were able to
grasp that the Covenant of Sinai and the various sacrifices of the temple were
merely an imperfect pre-figurement of the definitive sacrifice and definitive Cove-
nant, which would take place on the cross and which they were anticipating in
this Supper.

A clear explanation of the sacrificial character of the Eucharist can be found in
the inspired text in chapters 8 and 9 of the Letter to the Hebrews. Similarly, the
best preparation for understanding the real presence and the Eucharist as food
for the soul is a reading of chapter 6 of the Gospel of St John.

At the Last Supper, then, Christ already offered himself voluntarily to his Father
as a victim to be sacrificed. The Supper and the Mass constitute with the cross
one and the same unique and perfect sacrifice, for in all these cases the victim
offered is the same — Christ; and the priest is the same — Christ. The only differ-
ence is that the Supper, which takes place prior to the cross, anticipates the
Lord’s death in an unbloody way and offers a victim soon to be immolated; where-
as the Mass offers, also in an unbloody manner, the victim already immolated on
the cross, a victim who exists forever in heaven.

25. After instituting the Holy Eucharist, our Lord extends the Last Supper in inti-
mate conversation with his disciples, speaking to them once more about his im-
minent death (cf. Jn, chaps. 13-17). His farewell saddens the apostles, but he
promises that the day will come when he will meet with them again, when the
Kingdom of God will have come in all its fullness: he is referring to the beatific
life in heaven, so often compared to a banquet. Then there will be no need of
earthly food or drink; instead there will be a new wine (cf. Is 25:6). Definitively,
after the resurrection, the apostles and all the saints will be able to share the de-
light of being with Jesus.

The fact that St Mark brings in these words after the institution of the Eucharist
indicates in some way that the Eucharist is an anticipation here on earth of pos-
session of God in eternal blessedness, where God will be everything to everyone
(cf. 1 Cor 15:28). “At the Last Supper,” Vatican II teaches, “on the night he was
betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood.
This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages
until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church,
a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a
bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled
with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (”Sacrosanctum Concilium”,
47).

26. “When they had sung a hymn”: it was a custom at the passover meal to re-
cite prayers, called “Hallel”, which included Psalms 113 to 118; the last part was
recited at the end of the meal.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


5 posted on 06/06/2015 8:56:46 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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