“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear.” (Hebrews 5:7)
Today’s readings draw us to reflect on the priesthood. Who is a priest? What does a priest do? What makes him different? Why do we need priests? Who is the model priest? These questions are perfectly answered in today’s readings.
A priest is first and foremost a man like every other human being but with a special calling. Like Samuel, a priest is a human being who sleeps very close to the tabernacle and thereby hears God’s voice daily; a human being who counsels like Eli, a human being who points out important things to people like John the Baptist who said: “Behold the Lamb of God.” The priest’s basic function is to offer sacrifice and every sacrifice involves death, destruction or fire.
It is not easy for any priest just as it wasn’t easy for Jesus. The book of Hebrews tells us “He learnt to obey through suffering… he offered prayers with loud cries and tears.” In the life of any priest, two of the toughest things he has to deal with is obedience and prayerfulness. Given that the harvest is rich but labourers are few, the priest is often over-worked.
In our Gospel passage, Jesus who is our Great High Priest reveals himself as the Bridegroom; the one whose presence there is no need for fasting. Jesus makes reference to old wine and new wine. This is precisely where we get the idea of the Old Testament and New Testament. The old is good but it has its own skin. There would only be a problem when you try putting new wine into old wineskins.
Jesus is the new wine. He is our Great High Priest. He is the Priest par excellence. The priesthood of today is modelled after Jesus’ priesthood, not after the priesthood of the Old Testament. Let us pray for our priests that their life and ministry may truly incarnate Jesus in our world today.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you learnt obedience through suffering. Teach us in our various vocations to remain obedient to you regardless of the cost. Amen.
Bible Study: Hebrews 5:1-10, Psalm 110, and Mark 2:18-22).