The first reading speaks of our God who humbled himself to take on the role as a servant. No where in the religions of the world, do we see deities suffering together with humanity, but Jesus, the incarnate face of God, does precisely that because of his deep love for us. We are not alone in our suffering, but God himself, takes on our suffering and suffers alongside with us. We too are called to live a life of reparation, and to live our lives in atonement.
In the second reading, we meet Jesus the High Priest. For the Jews, the high priest was a sacred person who interceded for the people and helped to avert punishment deserved by sins. He was an advocate of the people before God. The high priest was not free from personal defects. Even Aaron, Moses’ brother who was the first priest, had his own shortcomings. None of his successors thereafter were free from sin. The high priest is the peoples’ representative before God, and he should be humble and meek to be accepted by God. The high priest would take the sin offering and offer it on the altar as an atonement for the people’s sins.
Scripture tells us that Christ is now our High Priest. Christ became the ultimate sacrificial lamb, without blemish, and is offered on the altar and present at every Eucharist. It is helpful to look at the role of Christ, High Priest at this time, when the Church reminds us that all faithful are part of the common priesthood. Christ, the perfect sacrifice, because He who was sinless, took on our sins. He is at the same time, fully man, and fully God. He represents humanity before God and through him, we are consecrated to God.
In the Gospel, James and John were eager to bask in the glory of God, requesting a seat at the right hand. Jesus might have been controlling hiis laughter when he heard this request. Could he have thought, “How full of themselves could they have been?” but it is unlikely that Jesus thought that way because He came not to condemn but to save sinners.
Many of us reading the Gospel would have felt the same way too. How can James and John be so bold and ask for a seat on the right hand? Even the sinner who was crucified beside Jesus was humble enough to only request that he be remembered when Jesus enters his Kingdom. Jesus did one better by offering the sinner a place in paradise, for he was repentant.
So what is the overarching theme this week? It is humility. We must be able to humble ourselves before God and surrender so that God can work through us, for us and for others. Just like how Jesus came to serve, so must we act in love and service for our sisters and brothers. All of us have our faults, just like the high priests. The important thing is this: in our humility, God will raise us to glory.
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