High Priest

           High Priest

Hebrews 4:14-5:6 

This passage taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews talks about Jesus as the “High Priest”. Through the entire book of Hebrews, St. Paul is urging the Hebrews to maintain their faith in Jesus as Christ and God. He is writing to a group of Christians who are having doubts in their faith in Christ and are returning back to Judaism, and Paul is reminding them what Christ offers is far greater.

In this passage specifically, is explaining the importance and significance of Christ as the “High Priest”. St. Paul says that because Christ has “ascended into heaven”(v.14), referring to His ascension, He has divine authority.  At the same time, however, Paul reminds us that Christ is not a High Priest who judges with apathy, but can empathize with us humans because He was human, and went through the same trials and temptations as we did. Christ, through his incarnation, became man, and was able to live among men on Earth, and presented with all the worldly temptation, remained sinless. Because of this, Jesus Christ as the High Priest does not sit on a throne of judgment, but on a throne of grace, from which he bestows to us His mercy when we come to Him.

The second part of this passage talks about the earthly high priests, or the clergy of the Church. As Christ had become man and was able to empathize with man, so also our clergy must act accordingly. As the passage states, all of our clergy are chosen “from among the people”(v. 1), and this is a fact that is forgotten. Many times we place our clergy on a pedestal, viewing them as holy and spiritual men who are without blemish. It is important that we remember that they are also human and face temptations like we do, and are not without sin. Our clergy consist of ordinary men who have heeded the calling by God. He was chosen from among the people to “represent the people in matters related to God,” (v.1) and on behalf of the sins of the people, including his own, he offers the sacrifice to God. Because of this, because he too is “subject to weakness,” (v.2) he must deal with the people mercifully and gently without judging.

Though this passage refers to the office of the high priest, and we typically associate that with our clergy, we must remember that we are all part of the Holy Priesthood. In the first general epistle of St. Peter, St. Peter reminds us that we are all part of a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (1 Peter 2:9) This is because we all partake in the sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation, which are the first qualification or step for the Holy Priesthood. This means, as members of the Holy Priesthood, we should practice the tenets which Christ as the High Priest embodies: we should be compassionate to others, forgiving, show mercy, and empathize with others, as we all have our own struggles in life. 

Reflection question: 

  1. Do my every day actions and behavior reflect the principles and attitude that Jesus Christ as the High Priest embodies?