But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.
The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (Then) they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.
Prayer of the Faithful, vol. I
grant that we may offer you praise this evening,
thanksgiving throughout the night,
adoration at dawn,
petition in the morning,
and blessing at noon.
May we receive your gifts in the evening,
and rejoice at night with all those who have labored
in your vineyard in justice and holiness,
and give you glory, now and for ever.
God is sovereignly free, a fascinating mystery, absolutely and for all eternity. St. Symeon the New Theologian writes, “what may be known of God is manifest…but…men keep truth imprisoned in unrighteousness…but the Holy Spirit fears no one and despises no one”. He is saying, God is not a master, and that man is not a slave. God is Freedom and man is the child of this divine Freedom: according to the Fathers, man is the “play of God”. …
The wedding rite symbolically summarizes the entire married life. The betrothed have already exchanged rings; they have already been crowned and they partake of the one cup of life. It is only in the evening of life that this cup, symbolic of fullness, will be taken, when the shadow of the crowns will fall upon it… [and] the spaces of the heart that do not exist as of yet… are created by suffering. In order to be loved by the other, one must renounce oneself completely. It is a deep and unceasing ascetic practice. The crowns of the betrothed refer to martyrdom.
Paul Evdokimov, The Sacrament of Love