Today I am sharing a reflection by Gianfranco DellaSantina on our recent deacon training weekend. Gianfranco is a deacon candidate at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Son though he was, Christ learned obedience from what he suffered, and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:8-10
Good evening my brothers in Christ. Tonight’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews calls our attention to a man called Melchizedek. Who was Melchizedek? As written in Chapter 7 of the same Letter to the Hebrews, Melchizedek was a high priest in the time of Abraham. When Abraham returned from the battle and defeat of the kings, he gave ten percent of all his spoils to Melchizedek. The notes in the study Bible say that Melchizedek was a type of Christ, to prefigure Jesus in that Melchizedek was said to have no history about his life, no father or mother, or ancestry. Without beginning of days or end of life, this is how he was to resemble the Son of God, and remain a priest forever. Interestingly, Melchizedek was also King of Salem, or King of Peace (fitting, as we are now at Christ, Prince of Peace retreat center). Also in the notes of the study Bible, it states that the rabbis maintained that anything not mentioned in the Torah does not exist. So, since the Torah does not mention Melchizedek’s ancestry, birth or death, the conclusion can be drawn that he remains forever.
I have thought about this passage all week long and why it being such a short passage was highlighted as tonight’s reading. What I have come up with by looking at the recipients of the letter being Jews, as Hebrews, is a further justification that Jesus is the Messiah and eternal high priest. The Jews would have been quite aware of who Melchizedek was and the importance of his position, so connecting Jesus to him would help them understand that Jesus was worthy of praise and honor. I went back and re-read the Letter to the Hebrews to try and understand why this bit was pulled out. I see that on many occasions referring to Jesus as the high priest and the way to God our Creator, the writer calls on the supposed knowledge of the Jews to link their understanding of the past to Jesus’ role in their salvation. I see that so much reiteration was used throughout the letter. Knowing how precious the papyrus was and how valuable the words must be to make their way into the letter, the continual repetition was necessary to pierce their hardened hearts. It is still necessary today to the Jews to show that Jesus was and still is the salvation of the world, the Messiah that they had been and are still waiting for. When the Bible talks about God hardening the hearts of people, are we still dealing with that same hardening of hearts today? How is it that the Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the Son of God? The Messiah? Why not? What is preventing them from actually seeing the truth? All of the teachings of the Torah have prophesied Jesus, as Jesus fulfilled all of the prophecies necessary to prove him the Son of God and Messiah.
All salvation comes through Jesus Christ to God, as mentioned in this letter. Yet the information has fallen on deaf ears and hardened hearts. This is relevant to us today in our ministry by allowing us to make the connection from the Old Testament and the New Testament with those we talk to, including Jews. It is easy for us as Catholics and other Christians to accept Jesus as our Savior and Son of God, but no so much for other religions. With my new position as bartender at Ristorante DellaSantina, I have been afforded the opportunity to talk to many people about our religion and our beliefs and practices.
For those of us that pray the invitatory daily, we hear the name Melchizedek quite often, and it is important for the correlation I mentioned earlier. We hear in the Gospels that Jesus is in the line of David, either by way of Joseph or Mary. Both seem to be in David’s line, and that is important for fulfillment of Scripture, as is the link to the eternal priest, Melchizedek.
Ultimately, we need to strive to be like Jesus through our actions and our words, whether inspirational or healing or calming or motivational. Now we are all brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus and should act accordingly.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.