The Mass on January 30th was offered for the soul of Fr. Basil Smith.

The Mass on January 31st will be offered for the benefit and intentions of Paul McC. on his birthday, requested by his wife Kathleen.

Since the beginning of Ordinary Time, on January 14th, we are hearing from Year 1 of the Weekday Lectionary, and the First Reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews.

It can be a bit confusing, but Catholics should understand two important things.  The author is writing to a Jewish audience explaining why Jesus’ death on the cross is the new sacrifice and that animal sacrifices were always insufficient.  So when you hear all about the sacrifices and the priesthood in the Letter to the Hebrews, you should keep in mind that what is being referred to is the Old Testament priesthood with animal sacrifices.  Otherwise the letter does not make sense, and can be easily misunderstood.

Jesus is the new sacrifice, offered once for all, and His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father and establishes the new and everlasting covenant.  There is now only one Priest and one Sacrificial Victim, who is Jesus Christ.  The Catholic priest offers the one sacrifice of Jesus to the Father, in persona Christi, at each Mass.  Please understand that there is really only one Sacrifice of the Mass, although in our language we might say things like, “On Sunday our parish has two Masses.”  Every Mass is the same Mass; the same One Sacrifice of Jesus Christ!  Do not be deceived or let your hearts be troubled if some non-Catholic attacks the Catholic priesthood or the Catholic Mass by using the Letter to the Hebrews.  Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are talking about!

We are going through the Gospel of St. Mark.  On Tuesday we heard that Jesus’ mother and brothers were outside of a house were Jesus was, and that they were looking for Him.  Please understand that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a perpetual virgin and never had any other children.  Jesus’ brothers should be understood as relatives, like cousins.  In that same Gospel passage, Jesus looks around and points to His disciples and says, “Here are my mother and brothers, for whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”  First understand this: Jesus never sinned.  This is not Jesus being dismissive towards His mother.  That would be a sin.  He never sinned against any of the Commandments.  He honoured His mother.  Understood correctly, even in this teaching He is honouring His mother, because no human being has ever done the will of God more perfectly than Mary.  So she is being praised by Him at the same time as saying that if we want to be in the family of Jesus, that is, the family of God, we can, if we also do the will of God.  That, my friends is really good news.  Belonging to God’s family is no longer a matter of bloodlines, but is available to all through faith!  Of course, to do God’s will requires God’s grace, but He does not refrain from giving His grace to anyone who asks!  In Viam Pacis!

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