Reading (Hebrews 10:1-10) Gospel (St. Mark 3:31-35)
In the first reading, Saint Paul again speaks about this new covenant that Our Lord has made. He says that when He [Jesus] says, “Behold, I come to do your will,” He takes away the first to establish the second. There is something that is entirely different about the new covenant than about the old; while it builds upon the old, it perfects it. As Saint Paul tells us, “The law had only a shadow of the good things to come, but it was not the very image of them; therefore, it could not make perfect those who come to worship and offer the same sacrifices year after year.” It was merely an annual recalling of sins, as there still is in practice among the Jewish people. But since Jesus is the very image of the invisible God, as Saint Paul says elsewhere, He can perfect those who come to worship God because sins can now actually be removed.
The blood of bulls and goats, because they are the sins of animals which are inferior to humanity, cannot take away sins. The animals did not sin; humanity did, so it requires somebody who is human. It requires human blood to be able to remove human sin, but it also requires someone who is divine because our sin has infinite consequences. And while we are immortal in our souls, animals, at the moment that they die cease to exist, so obviously the blood of animals could never take away sin. But even our own blood cannot because we are finite persons who have committed sins that have infinite consequences. And so it requires someone who is both human and divine to be able to remove our sin. Being both human and divine, He is that image of the invisible God; therefore, sin is able to be taken away and we are able to be perfected.
We can have that confidence, then, that Saint Paul talks about; and he goes on to say that it is by this “will” when He [Jesus] says, “Behold, I come to do your will, O God.” It is by doing His Will, which is made very clear in the Garden: Not my will be done, but thine. He did not want the cup if He could have passed it by, but He prayed that if it be the Will of God that He would take that chalice the Lord offered in the Garden, the chalice that He accepted to fulfill the Will of God, to take that wine on the Cross and be able to say, “It is consummated. It is finished.” Everything had been fulfilled. The Will of God was done and our sins could now be taken away. We would be reconciled with God.
What does that mean? Saint Paul says, “By this ‘will’ we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” And so Jesus could literally look around at the crowd as He did and say, “These are my mother and my brothers and my sisters. Whoever does the Will of God is brother and sister and mother to me.” Because we have been incorporated into Christ, we now have that opportunity, the means to be perfected, the means to true holiness because it is not by an external law that we are trying to do the Will of God, but rather, it is by the law of love, it is by what is written in the heart. And more than that, it is according to Who lives in the heart – and that is the Most Holy Trinity. Right within us the Lord dwells, and right within us His sacrifice perfects us, it purifies us, it makes us holy. If we are willing to accept the sacrifice that Our Lord has offered on our behalf, and if we are able to accept His Will that He united with His heavenly Father and unite ourselves in that Will, then we too become members of Jesus Christ, brothers and sisters to Our Lord, children of our heavenly Father, who then are not only made in the image and likeness of God, but are remade in the very likeness of God, through Baptism raised to that divine level, sharing in the divine nature and the divine life, truly being brothers and sisters of the Lord – indeed, members of the Lord and children of God. That is what that covenant does for us. That is what this sacrifice does for us. In removing our sins, it reunites us with God and it gives us the means to perfection and holiness so that we can truly live as children of our heavenly Father who come to do His Will.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.