The 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021
Today is Sunday the 7 November, beginning the 32nd week of Ordinary time.
The University of Johannesburg choir sing Ukuthula; Peace in this world of sin the blood of Jesus brings. Redemption in this world of sin the blood of Jesus brings.
Today’s reading is from the letter to the Hebrews.
For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgement, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
The writer of this passage is addressing Jews, who were familiar with the worship conducted in the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem. Animal sacrifice was central to that worship. When the High Priest offered the blood of these animals to God, the people’s sins were wiped away. You may well find these very strange ideas indeed. Start this prayer by trying to understand a little what was going on.
The writer uses this image, familiar to those he addresses, to explain the effects of Christ’s death. It is Christ’s blood, shed on the cross, that frees us from our sins, once and for all. Theologians have spent centuries trying to explain how that works. For now, simply try to come to some feeling of what it is like for you to be freed from sin.
Listen to the passage again, noticing what it expects to happen when Christ comes again.
You may not have found this an easy passage to get to grips with. Finish by speaking to God about whatever you’ve got from it, or about the questions it leaves you with.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.