Pentecost +22 - Year B
“There are many ways of helping people to this confidence [that they are a people loved and forgiven by God]. Hebrews offers one very complicated way. The idea that a sacrifice or a symbolic reminder of blood kept God in touch with the validity of love might strike us as odd if not bizarre, but it must have worked for some. We are not committed to using the same methods, but we are committed to the same message - if that is our faith. We are today more sensitive to different religious traditions than our author, but we also need to come to terms critically with our own. We might even seek to emulate the level of creativity our author has shown when we face the challenge of speaking this same message to people in our day who live in a different symbolic world but face substantially the same needs.” [from William Loader]
I appreciate the challenge for us to speak of love and forgiveness in a creative manner in our context. For the physicists among us we might speak of Jesus giving up his Higgs boson. For others of us this brings a big, “Huh?”.
When it comes to the blood sacrifice imagery, I am in the “Huh?” category. If Jesus can bypass the sacrifice of goats and bulls, why limit him to a simple blood substitution as though Jesus was religiously type O-negative. In today’s world we might also wonder about hematopoietic stem cells being a new image regarding Jesus’ on-going experimentation and creativity rather than repeating a past out of touch with today’s and tomorrow’s realities.
Perhaps it is enough to ask what the “new covenant” is and how it might be symbolized. If it is redemption from the past, then we may need to find images that will walk into a new future rather than repeat past patterns.