The central theme of the epistle to the Hebrews is Christ. As such, Hebrews helps show what the focus of the Church must be. It is essential to the Church’s mission that we must follow Jesus in faith despite any difficulties. Hebrews helps explain Christ’s nature and why He was sent by the Father. This helps us understand how we should worship God and why God should be the focus of our lives.
Hebrews opens by emphasizing that Jesus reflects the glory of God because He shares one nature with God. It is through Christ that all things came to be created. This Christ, “who for a little while was made lower than the angels,” suffered death to restore us to life (Hebrews 2:9-10). Through his perfect suffering, he sanctifies all who come to him. He shares in our flesh, taking our nature, so he might destroy the power of death (Hebrews 2:14). Through his incarnation, passion, and death he becomes the High Priest who can make expiation for our sins.
This High Priest is the “same yesterday and today and forever,” for his priesthood is everlasting (Hebrews 13:8). He is able to save all those who draw near through him “since he always lives to make intercession for them” (7:25). In the Old Covenant, the blood of animals was offered as sacrifices to sanctify, but “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). These rites prefigure the perfect offering of Christ. Once and for all, He offers Himself to secure eternal redemption. Thus, he mediates a new covenant, one which does not need to be offered repeatedly (Hebrews 9:25).
This offering has infinite value. Through this single perfect offering He has perfected those who are sanctified for all time (Hebrews 10:14). In imitation of Him, the Church must also unite in the one sacrifice of Christ. We worship God through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by which the one sacrifice of Christ is made present. The whole of creation is presented to the Father through the death and Resurrection of Christ. Through the same sacrifice, the Church sings the glory of God, which is only possible through Christ.
The entire Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ. “Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15). In turn, the faithful may become sanctified by Christ’s blood outpoured for our atonement. This holiness is critical, for without it no one will see the Lord (12:14). Thus, we must “offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).
This holiness must be shown in our lives through brotherly love. We must be careful to inherit the rest that God has promised us in Christ. Some will fail to enter because of disobedience (Hebrews 4:6). The teachings of the Church nourish us so we may build a “foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” upon the doctrine of Christ (Hebrews 6:1). We must carefully walk in the truth lest we crucify the Son of God by abandoning the truth of His gospel.
Our worship of God and the conduct of our lives must be united. We must stand in both truth and love to offer acceptable worship to God. Those of us in the Church need to be reminded that the Son of God humbled Himself, offering Himself up to beatings, torture, and most humiliating death in atonement for our disobedience. We owe our existence and our love to Him who created us and loved us enough to restore our friendship with Him. This love should be reflected in our lives so others may come to know His love as well