A reading for today, Good Friday, but also for people who are sick and dying.
The author of this letter has introduced Jesus as High Priest, not so much in the Catholic sense, but in the Jewish tradition, someone who stands for us and speaks for us in God’s presence. Jesus was with us in the flesh, and his unique perspective can give us hope in our trials. On Good Friday he endured the greatest of these, as we read:
Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest
who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
The narrative in the Lectionary skips several verses. (Maybe a good time to meditate on God’s mercy.) Then we are reminded of the role of Jesus as intercessor extraordinaire:
In the days when Christ was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
His whole public ministry was about mercy. His Passion included intervals of mercy; remember he did not want sin to be held against us, he petitioned his Father to forgive us for not fully realizing what we do.
Good Friday is a difficult time. As are the depths of a serious illness. Some people have suffered greatly far longer than three hours or a single day. Excruciating infirmity can last years. And sometimes, we can only hope, and pray that God hears us.
For an in-depth treatment of the Pastoral Care rites, check this page that outlines our examination from a decade ago.