Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saint Anthony, Abbott

Dear Fathers, Brothers, Sisters in Christ, 

Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Hebrews 4:16)

Have you ever seen an interrogation scene in a movie or TV show? There is a bright spotlight, and the prisoner sits, squinting, unable to get a good look at his questioners. He is alone, isolated, vulnerable. 

Today’s reading from Hebrews talks about this kind of exposure; it says that “everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account” (Hebrews 4:13). That sounds pretty scary. Actually, though, it is very different from the threatening spotlight interrogation of movie thrillers. We are laid bare by Jesus, the living Word of God. He doesn’t hold himself back behind the bright light; he is joined to us in our humanity. He has experienced all the trials and temptations to which we are subject. He sympathizes with us.

The passage speaks about Jesus as a high priest. The Latin word for priest literally means “bridge builder”; a priest bridges the divide between people and God. But our great high priest is absolutely unique: he builds the bridge in his own person, as both man and God. So he’s not just representing one party to another; he is both parties! This is why the writer of Hebrews emphasizes that Christ is a sympathetic high priest. 

So, amazingly, though the Word of God does expose us, we can nevertheless have confidence as we come to him. We don’t take confidence because we think we can withstand his scrutiny. We don’t need to plead our case or try to explain the way we are. Rather, we are bold because we trust in our high priest. We believe him when he offers us mercy and “grace for timely help” (Hebrews 4:16). 

Are you inclined to try to cover yourself under the Lord’s scrutiny? Do you shy away from bringing yourself fully into his presence? Remind yourself that your exposure before God brings only healing and life. He understands your condition, he shares your humanity, and he calls you to come to his throne of grace. Accept his invitation today.

“Lord, thank you for being my great high priest, for bringing me to the throne of grace.”

Father Ed Bakker 
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province 
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne 
Bendigo Australia