Memorial of Saint  Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Heb 5:1-10; Ps 110:1-4; Mk 2:18-22:  Who is being referred to in this Responsorial Psalm?  Perhaps the Father is addressing the new Adam.  The Old Adam did not live up to God’s plan for him to lead others into a more profound relationship with the LORD; he did not protect his wife from the Tempter.  This exercise of human freedom did not undo God’s plan to bring us to himself.  This Lord the “Only Begotten Son” of the Father who will sit at God’s right hand until all his enemies become a footstool.  As we have learned being clobbered by shoes or even become a footstool is a severe insult in the Middle East.  The real power in this region will stretch forth from Zion; the LORD is victorious over all his enemies.  Indeed, his is princely power in the day of his birth.  In holy splendor, before the daystar, like the dew, the LORD has begotten his Beloved Son.  This is the Lord Jesus as we have heard in the Baptism in the Jordan.  Indeed, the Lord Jesus is both Son and Priest, forever. His priesthood is not a family inheritance; his priesthood is from eternity and not subject to human scrutiny like Melchizedek.  The Letter to the Hebrews picks up on this mysterious priesthood.  Jesus, the Great High Priest, learned obedience from what he suffered.  He is the Divine Bridegroom who is seeking his spouse.  Christ is the New Wine for whom we are the new wine skins.

The Jewish high priesthood is an image for the perfect priesthood of Christ.  We come to understand the Priesthood of Christ by pondering the high priest in the Old Testament.  As this letter to Hebrew Christians reveals the high priest was taken from among men and made their representative before God.  The priest was anointed and purified to offer gifts and sacrifices acceptable to God for the sins of the people.  He also had to offer a sin offering for himself, because he was a sinner.  Christ is not a sinner, but he is the friend of sinners.  He was tempted in every way that we are tempted, but he never sinned. In his own self-sacrifice he has changed everything.  No longer do we define humanity by sin. Indeed, Christ is the New Adam, the new man. Though he never disobeyed the will of the Father, he suffered the consequences of that disobedience when he was alone, abandoned, and alienated upon the altar of the cross.  Clothed in the Flesh upon the cross he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  He threw himself into crucifixion and death so that we might learn obedience from what he suffered.  Indeed, we are now made perfect in him the source of our salvation. When we obey him we obey the Father who gives us the abundance of the Holy Spirit to raise us up from sin and death into a life of holiness and glory.

Something new and unexpected was happening among those who followed the Lord Jesus.  His disciples certainly fasted, just like all the good Jews around them fasted.  However, they were not taught as the disciples of Saint John the Baptist or the disciples of the Pharisees.  They were not taught to use fasting as a way to persuade the Lord to come in the fullness of the Kingdom. Indeed, those who follow the Lord Jesus fast because the bridegroom has been taken from them.  Every Friday is a little Good Friday and we fast and abstain to remember the suffering of the Bridegroom, the suffering of the Obedient High Priest. This something new and unexpected is seen in the two mini-parables the Lord Jesus tells.  Indeed, we are old, like that shrunken piece of cloth used to patch the old cloak.  Indeed, we are new, like the new wine skins into which Christ, the New Wine, is poured for the salvation of the world.