daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 2nd Week of the Year, January 26, 2013
Heb. 9:2-3, 6-7, 11-14, Ps. 46, Mark 3:20-21

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 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" (Heb. 9:11-12).

What the Letter to the Hebrews says here is at the very heart of the Christian faith; namely that the blood of Christ was offered to God in the heavenly temple to gain for us eternal redemption. To speak of the blood of Christ offered in sacrifice to the Father for the forgiveness of our sins is to speak of the death of Christ on the cross as the sacrifice that saves us, forgives our sins, and justifies us. In speaking of this, we are at the very heart of the Christian faith. It was for this that Christ became incarnate and entered the world. The offering of his blood to the Father is the decisive act that redeemed us. He atoned for our sins in his blood shed for us on the cross.

Christ's sacrifice of himself is the propitiation and expiation for our sins. He is the one "whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins" (Rom. 3:25). In the offering of Christ's blood we see the justice of God; that is, we see that the former sins that were just passed over in the Old Testament without being adequately expiated by a truly worthy sacrifice are now finally fully, completely, and justly expiated through Christ's blood poured out in sacrifice for them. This sacrifice shows that God really is just in fully expiating past sins and our sins in Christ's blood.

Christ's life was given over to death for sinners to justly expiate their sins. He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). He is the lamb of sacrifice that died instead of us for our sins. The chastisement for our sins was upon him. He was punished instead of us for our sins to free us from them, from the pain of our guilt, and from their punishment. He thus fulfilled the law on our behalf that the sinner must die for his sins (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23). This is applied to us when we believe in him. God condemned and punished our sin in Christ's flesh on the cross, thus satisfying and fulfilling for us this just requirement of the law, that the sinner die for his sins. So says St. Paul: "For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom. 8:3-4).

God gave us blood to expiate and make atonement for our sins in the sacrifices of the Old Testament, where the animal's blood was shed in place of that of the sinner in expiation for his sins, and ultimately in the sacrifice of Christ, whose blood was shed instead of ours in expiation, propitiation, reparation, and satisfaction for our sins. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life" (Lev. 17:11). "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28). "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). "The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

It is God's mission in the world to send his only Son to pour out his blood for the remission of our sins; and it is our mission as his followers to proclaim this salvation in his blood from sin and guilt to all the peoples of the world, so that all may hear this good news and have the opportunity to explicitly believe in Jesus Christ for their liberation from sin and guilt and in order to have a sure hope of eternal life with God. To those who are open to listen to us, we proclaim this salvation; with those who do not want to hear this word of life, we may dialogue and offer the witness of our life.


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