Diving deep into themes found in the Book of Hebrews, Dr. Andrew Swafford explains how the roots of the Mass can be found in the Old Testament’s references to the Old Covenant, and the fulfillment of that covenant in the New Covenant through Jesus Christ.
Jews of the Old Testament understood that the Holy of Holies in the Temple was an imitation of what’s happening in heaven. They knew it was the closest they could get on earth to the heavenly Liturgy, but they also knew it wasn’t the real thing.
As we move from the Old Testament to the New, we move from imitation to participation. We are actually sharing in the heavenly Liturgy. At the Crucifixion the veil separating the people from the Holy of Holies was torn, and The Old Covenant gave way to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.
God’s presence was unleashed. Now anybody can go before our Lord
Hebrew 10:19-22 states:
“since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith … “
The new veil in the new and heavenly temple is the Blessed Sacrament, but faith unveils Christ’s real presence.
In Exodus 24, we read of the Blood of the Covenant and sacrifices in the Temple, and hear how God’s people were filled with hope and expectation while Moses and the elders of Israel went up the mountain and ate and drank—foreshadowing Christ in the New Covenant. That Old Covenant is fulfilled by Christ who gathers all people to himself.
The kingdom is here. Jesus is greater than the Temple. When Christ comes again, he will have no more glory than he has in the Eucharist. The only difference will be in our ability to see that glory.
This is the central theme of the book of Hebrews. Dr. Andrew Swafford and Jeff Cavins just finished putting together a study on this letter. Check it out here.