Someone recently observed in a conversation about religious life, that the only qualification for leaders is that they have suffered. The did not mean that sort of American whining about how hard one’s life is. He meant deep and scaring human suffering. A day in a Sudanese refugee camp might clarify this for an American.

In light of this the second reading this Sunday makes a lot of sense as part of God’s plan by sending his Son, like ourselves, in order that as this unique high priest, Jesus might expiate through a perfect sacrifice, sins and restore at the same time and act, the original relationship between God and the human person.

Notice that sin is just not compared to death, but in this passage is death itself. Sin kills us, and the Lord of Death is the Lord of the Flies — the Devil. Notice that the action doing this is named: expiation. Expiation if a freely offered sacrifice expecting nothing in return as an act of reparation and adoration. It is as far on the spectrum from “do ut des” religion that you can get; it is not any kind of offering aimed at obtaining the divine gaze in one’s favor. This is an extremely important point tied very closed to the kenotic self emptying of Jesus.

In this sense then, his presentation sets his life on the way to the cross where the expiation is made complete. That’s why this second reading was chosen.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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