When Jesus breathed his last, the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom.
It is, if you recall, none other than the parochet–the sacred veil that separates from the world the Holy of Holies, which houses the very Presence of Yahweh on the Ark of the Covenant.
Remember that only once a year–during that holiest Day of Atonement–can the high priest and no other draw this curtain aside so that he can step into the innermost and holiest sanctuary of the temple.
Jesus’ death does not merely draw the sacred veil aside; it tears it from top to bottom. For no longer is there any need for the ritual of atonement prescribed for the Yom Kippur. Jesus’ death on the cross renders any further atonement unnecessary.
But even more importantly, the tearing of the temple curtain means because of our Lord, there is no longer any separation between God and humanity. None of us–not even the worst sinners among us--can ever claim that we are far away or separated from God.
By walking into our wretchedness and embracing our every misery, Jesus has broken every possible barrier and bridged every possible gap between heaven and earth.
As it turns out, he is that ladder that links earth to heaven, foreseen in the ancient dream of the patriarch Jacob (Genesis 28:10-19). And as he himself said, he is not only the shepherd of sheep, but also their very door, the gate that leads to the flock (John 10:7). Indeed aside from being the Truth and the Life, Jesus is the Way (John 14:6).
Jesus is the door of the God’s heart flung wide and permanently open. Yet it is up to us whether or not we will walk through that door.
Take a moment to think about that.
Image sources: catholictradition.org
“Jesus of Nazareth” (1977)