June 4 Epistle Reading

Hebrews 7:26-28; 8:1-2

Brethren, it was fitting that we
should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated
from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those
high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then
for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up
himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high
priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law,
appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever. Now the point in
what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is
seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a
minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man
but by the Lord.

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe (bishop of N.Africa from the 6th century) writes:

“…Jesus became high priest…by the shedding of his own blood and is the high priest forever according to the order of Melchisadech. To him, along with the Father, we offer our sacrifice. Yet through him, the sacrifice we now offer is holy, living, and pleasing to God.”

He also discusses the prayer we close with and says:

“we never say ‘through the Holy spirit,’ but rather, ‘through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord…’ We do not, however, only say ‘Your Son’ when we conclude our prayer. We also say ‘who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. In this way we commemorate the natural beauty of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is clear, then, that the Christ who exercises a priestly role on our behalf is the same Christ who enjoys a natural unity and equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”

(Left) A 15th century icon of Christ as the Great High Priest, dressed up as bishop, and blessing all in the Church. It was painted by Andreas Ritzos of Crete, a famous Byzantine iconographer. (Right) A 20th century icon of Greek heritage in the Dormition Convent in Greece.




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