The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrews 10:19-25

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2011

This post includes Father Callan’s Summary of 10:19-39. The commentary on today’s reading follows it.

A Summary of Hebrews 10:19-39

Here we have the beginning of the Moral Part of the Epistle (10:19—13:17), on which see Introduction, No. 5, C. The author first makes a moral and spiritual appeal, telling his readers that their faith should give them great confidence, (a) because now through Christ we all have free entrance into the immediate presence of God, and (b) because we have in Christ a High Priest who presides over the house of God and to whom we can come without faltering, provided our approach is with a sincere heart, with full assurance of faith, with a purified conscience, and with bodies washed by the regenerating waters of Baptism (Heb 10:19-25). He then warns them, as before in Heb 6:4-8, of the perils of apostasy, holding that only a terrible fate can await those who have willfully trampled under foot the Son of God, profaned the blood of the
Covenant, and insulted the Holy Spirit of God (Heb 10:26-31). Finally, he bids them take courage and hope in recalling the early days of their faith, when they and others had so much to suffer and bore their persecutions and privations bravely. In view of the confidence and steadfastness then manifested, they must not waver or shrink back now; they must not lose the reward of their earlier sacrifices; they must press on to the crown of eternal life, for the struggle will not be long for any of them (Heb 10:32-39).

19. Having therefore, brethren, full freedom to enter into the holies by the blood of Jesus,
20. A new and living way which he hath dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh,
21. And a high priest over the house of God,

Under the Old Dispensation only the High Priest had the right to enter the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle; but now, says the Apostle, we all are perfectly free, by virtue of the blood of Jesus and our union with Him, to enter the heavenly Sanctuary, into the very presence of God in heaven. Jesus has led the way to that Sanctuary, passing thither “through the veil” of His body, through His suffering humanity, and thus opening it to everyone. The way He traversed is called “new,” because until He passed through it we knew it not, it was closed to us; it is also said to be a “living way,” because it leads to a life of grace and glory, and because He who first entered by it is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6; cf. Eph 2:18, 3:12). And not only have we this free access to the throne of God and this opened way, but Jesus is our great High Priest who is now actually exercising His priestly functions for us in the heavenly Sanctuary, and has authority over the whole “house of God,” i.e., the Church Militant and Triumphant. See Eph 1:22; 1 Tim 3:15.

In the Vulgate of verse 19 Christi should be Jesus.

22. Let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water.
23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he is faithful that hath promised.

With the three sources of confidence and assurance just mentioned in the preceding verses the Apostle bids us draw near to God and the throne of grace, but with sincerity of heart, fullness of faith, a purified conscience, and a body over which have flowed the cleansing waters of Baptism; and he further exhorts his readers who were tempted to waver in their faith to “hold fast” to the profession which they made at the time they were baptised and received into the Church.

Hearts sprinkled (verse 22). The reference is to the physical purification by blood according to the Law, spoken of above in Heb 9:19-22. Our
hearts are purified by the blood of Christ, as St. John says ( 1 John 1:7). The water of Baptism is called “clean water” because of its cleansing effects on the soul; while washing the body physically, it cleanses the soul spiritually.

For he is faithful, etc., i.e., God who has promised the rewards of the future life will keep His promise, if we do our part.

24. And let us consider one another, to provoke unto charity and to good works;
25. Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed to do; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching.

Our faith and hope must issue in works of charity and mutual helpfulness; we must emulate one another in the exercise of charity and the performance of good works. None should withdraw from the Christian assembly, from the coming-together of the faithful to celebrate the divine mysteries and receive instruction, where mutual comfort and exhortation were given. The chief purpose of the Christian assembly was to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, as we are told in 1 Cor 11:20. This fidelity to Christian fellowship and service was all the more necessary in view of the fact that the day of death and judgment was not far off for any one of the faithful.

As some are accustomed to do (Verse 25). It seems that some of the faithful had withdrawn from the Christian gatherings, perhaps out of human respect or for fear of persecution.

2 Responses to “Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrews 10:19-25”

  1. […] Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 10:19-25). 12:05 AM EST. […]

  2. […] Chrysostom on the Coming JudgmentJan 27: Aquiinas' Catena Aurea on Today's Gospel (Mark 4:21-25)Jan 27: Father Callan on Today's First Reading (Heb 10:19-25) « Jan 27: Aquiinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:21-25) Jan […]

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