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From: Malachi 3:1-4

Shortcoming of Priests (Continuation)

(The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.)
[1] “Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord
whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the cove-
nant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. [2]
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he ap-

“For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; [3] he will sit as a refiner and
purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and
silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. [4] Then the offering of Judah
and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in
former years.”


2:17-3:5. As at the start of the book, the question raised here is a fairly general
one: What is the point of keeping the Law if those who do evil are the ones who
have success in life? The question focuses on rewards in this life only (cf. 2:17),
but the prophet’s reply extends beyond that: he announces a day of judgment
when priests and ritual will be purified (3:3-4) and the oppressed will receive jus-
tice (3:5); on the day of the Lord, God will set everything right.

However, the force of the oracle lies not so much in the fact of divine judgment
as in the mysterious way in which that day is announced (3:1-2). We are told
that the Lord of hosts himself will come to His temple, and his coming will strike
fear into the hearts of men. The passage, in fact, seems to be speaking about
three different personages — the messenger who will precede the coming of the
Lord and who later on, in the epilogue, is identified as the prophet Elijah (cf. 4:5);
the Lord himself; and the angel (literally the “messenger”) of the Covenant (3:1).
In mentioning the first (the messenger who prepares the way: 3:1) the prophet
may have in mind the sort of protocol used by kings who had a herald announce
their arrival. This personage’s role is similar to that described in Isaiah 40:3ff.
However, a little further on there is the “messenger of the covenant”. It is not
clear what this means; it could be the Lord himself; a further messenger, whose
role is similar to that of Moses, that is, a mediator of the Covenant; or, finally,
the messenger mentioned earlier, the herald, who is now being given a new role.
No clear interpretation can be established beyond doubt.

The New Testament will resolve this question of interpretation. The Synoptic Gos-
pels (cf. Mk 1:2) and Jesus himself (Mt 11:7-15; cf. Lk 7:24-30) identify the first
messenger, the one who prepares the way, with Elijah, and sees his fulfillment in
the person of John the Baptist. This makes Jesus the Lord who comes to his tem-
ple. The Church reads it that way when the liturgy of the feast of the Presentation
of Jesus in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:22-40) includes Malachi 3:1-4 as a first reading.
But as can be seen from many passages of the New Testament (for example,
the episode of the Transfiguration: Mt 17:1-13 and par.), Jesus is also the me-
diator of the New Covenant.

In the tradition of the Church, the ambiguity here is seen as a way of indicating
the two-fold coming of the Lord—in the humility of the flesh, and in the glory and
splendor of the End: “We proclaim the coming of Christ: he comes not once, but
twice, and the second coming will be more glorious than the first. The first was
a time of suffering; in the second, however, he will wear the crown of divine king-
ship. Almost everything in the life our Lord Jesus Christ has two meanings. He
was born twice: once, of the Father, from all eternity; and then, of the Virgin, in
the fullness of time. He comes twice, too: he came first in silence, like rain fal-
ling on wool; and he will come again in glory. First, he was wrapped in swad-
dling clothes and laid in a manger; when he comes again, he will be robed in
light. First, he shouldered the cross, without fear of suffering; when he comes
again, he will come in glory, surrounded by the hosts of angels. Let us consider
not only the life of the Lord, but also his future coming [...]. Because of his great
mercy, he was made man to teach men and persuade them; when he comes
again, all men, whether they want to or not, will be made subject to the power
and authority of the King. The words of the prophet Malachy refer to both of
these events” (St Cyril of Jerusalem, “Catecheses Ad Illuminandos”, 15, 1-2).

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 02/01/2013 9:42:03 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Hebrews 2:14-18

Jesus, Man’s Brother, was Crowned with Glory and Honor Above the Angels

[14] Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise par-
took of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the
power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and deliver all those who through fear of
death were subject to lifelong bondage. [16] For surely it is not with angels that
he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. [17] Therefore he had to
be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful
and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the
people. [18] For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able
to help those who are tempted.


14. As in the prologue of St John’s Gospel (In 1:12-13), “flesh” and “blood” apply
to human nature in its weakened condition. Jesus has assumed man’s nature:
“He has taken it on without sin but with all its capacity to suffer pain, given that
he took a flesh similar to sinful flesh; he ‘shared therefore in flesh and blood’, that
is, he took on a nature in which he could suffer and die—which could not occur in
a divine nature” (St Thomas, “Commentary on Heb.”, 2, 4).

Christ chose to submit to death, which is a consequence of sin, in order to des-
troy death and the power of the devil. The Council of Trent teaches that, as a re-
sult of original sin, man “incurred the wrath and indignation of God, and conse-
quently incurred death [...] and, together with death, bondage in the power of him
who from that time had the empire of death” (”De Peccato Originali”, Can. 3; cf.
Rom 5:12; 6:12-14; 7:5; etc.). To explain this power of the devil, St Thomas com-
ments: “A judge has one kind of power of death: he can punish people with death;
a criminal has a different kind of power of death—a power he usurps by killing an-
other [...]. God has the first kind of dominion over death; the devil has the second
kind, for he seduces man to sin and leads him to death” (”Commentary on Heb.”,
2, 4).

Addressing Christ and his cross, the Church sings, “O altar of our victim raised,
/ O glorious passion ever praised, / by which our Life to death was rendered,
/ that death to life might thence be mended” (Hymn “Vexilla Regis”). The death
of Christ, the only one who could atone for man’s sin, wipes out sin and makes
death a way to God. “Jesus destroyed the demon”, St Alphonsus writes; “that
is, he destroyed his power, for the demon had been lord of death on account of
sin, that is, he had power to cause temporal and eternal death to all the children
of Adam infected by sin. And this was the victory of the Cross that Jesus, the
author of life, by dying obtained Life for us through that death” (”Reflections on
the Passion”, Chap. 5, 1).

15. Christ has freed men not from physical but from spiritual death and therefore
from fear of death, because he has given us certainty of future resurrection.
Man’s natural fear of death is easily explained by his fear of the unknown and his
instinctive aversion to what death involves; but it can also be a sign of excessive
attachment to this life. “Because it does not want to renounce its desires, the
soul fears death, it fears being separated from the body” (St Athanasius, “Oratio
Contra Gentes”, 3).

The fear of death which some people in the Old Testament had can be explained
by their not knowing what fate awaited them, and by the possibility of being com-
pletely cut off from God. But physical death is not something to be feared by
those who sincerely seek God: “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” St
Paul explains (Phil 1:21). “Don’t be afraid of death. Accept it from now on, gene-
rously...when God wills it, where God wills it, as God wills it. Don’t doubt what I
say: it will come in the moment, in the place and in the way that are best sent
by your Father-God. Welcome be our sister death!” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”,

16. “It is not with angels that he is concerned”: the original text says literally “he
did not take angels with his hand”, “ did not catch hold of”, “did not take [the na-
ture of angels]”; meaning that Christ took to himself a human nature, not an an-
gelic nature. St John Chrysostom explains the text in this way: “What does he
mean by ‘take with his hand’; why does he not say ‘took on/assumed’ but in-
stead uses the expression ‘took with his hand’? The reason is this: this verb has
to do with those who are in pursuit of their enemies and are doing all they can to
catch those who are in flight from them and to seize those who resist. In other
words, humankind had fled from him and fled very far, for it says ‘we were very
far from God and were almost without God in the world’ (Eph 2:12). That is why
he came in pursuit of us and ‘seized us for himself’. The Apostle makes it clear
that he did all this entirely out of love for men, in his charity and solicitude for us”
(”Hom. on Heb.”, 2).

“This single reflection, that he who is true and perfect God became man, sup-
plies sufficient proof of the exalted dignity conferred on the human race by the
divine bounty; since we may now glory that the Son of God is bone of our bone,
and flesh of our flesh, a privilege not given to angels” (”St Pius V Catechism”,
I, 4, 11).

17. This is the first mention of the central theme of the epistle, the priesthood of
Christ. Because he is God and man, Jesus is the only Mediator between God
and men, who have lost God’s friendship and divine life on account of sin; he ex-
ercises this mediation as High Priest; his Love saves men by bridging the abyss
which separates the sinful stock of Adam from God whom it has outraged.

It first refers clearly to our Lord’s human nature: he is in no way different from
men (except that he is not guilty of sin: cf. Heb 4:15). “These words mean that
Christ was reared and educated and grew up and suffered all he had to suffer and
finally died” (Chrysostom, “Hom. on Heb.”, 5). “He partook of the same food as
we do,” writes Theodoret of Cyrus, “and he endured work; he experienced sad-
ness in his soul and shed tears; he underwent death” (”Interpretatio Ep. Ad
Haebr.”, II).

Christ the Priest is able perfectly to understand the sinner and make satisfaction
to divine Justice. “In a judge what one most desires is mercy,” St Thomas writes,
“in an advocate, reliability. The Apostle implies that both things were found in
Christ by virtue of his Passion. Mankind desires mercy of him as judge, and
reliability of him as advocate” (”Commentary on Heb.”, 2, 4).

Christ’s priesthood consists in making expiation by a sacrifice of atonement and
a peace-offering for the sins of men: he takes our place and atones on our behalf:
“Christ merited justification for us [...] and made satisfaction for us to God the
Father” (Council of Trent, “De Iustificatione”, Chap. 7).

18. Suffering can link a person to Christ in a special and mysterious way. “The
Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in
the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which
the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through
which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemp-
tion through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the
Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the
redemptive suffering of Christ” (John Paul II, “Salvifici Doloris”, 19).

Christ’s main purpose in undergoing his passion was the Redemption of mankind,
but he also suffered in order to strengthen us and give us an example. “By taking
our weaknesses upon himself Christ has obtained for us the strength to overcome
our natural infirmity. On the night before his passion, by choosing to suffer fear,
anguish and sorrow in the garden of Gethsemane he won for us strength to resist
harassment by those who seek our downfall; he obtained for us strength to over-
come the fatigue we experience in prayer, in mortification and in other acts of de-
votion, and, finally, the fortitude to bear adversity with peace and joy” (St Alphon-
sus, “Reflections on the Passion”, Chap. 9, 1).

A person who suffers, and even more so a person who does penance, should re-
alize that he is understood by Christ. Christ will then console him and help him
bear affliction: “You too some day may feel the loneliness of our Lord on the
Cross. If so, seek the support of him who died and rose again. Find yourself a
shelter in the wounds in his hands, in his feet, in his side. And your willingness
to start again will revive, and you will take up your journey again with greater de-
termination and effectiveness” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way of the Cross”, XII, 2).

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 02/01/2013 9:43:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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