35 On the transforming, priestly love of Christ, see further O’Collins, Jesus Our Redeemer, 181 99.


The priesthood of Christ continues forever, since he eternally intercedes for the world and blesses the world, offers himself through the Holy Spirit to the Father, continues to pour out the Holy Spirit upon the Church and the world, acts on earth as primary minister in all the Church’s preaching and sacramental life, and in heaven remains for ever the Mediator through whom the blessed enjoy the vision of God and the risen life of glory. This unpacking of the activities of Christ as High Priest has five parts; let us take them up in turn. (1) That the exalted Christ exercises forever his priesthood by continuing to intercede for the world comes straight out of the New Testament (e.g. Rom. 8: 34; Heb. 7: 25).

That such priestly intercession should be characterized as ‘blessing’ picks up language from Ephesians about God ‘blessing us in/by Christ with every spiritual blessing’ (Eph. 1: 3). As we saw, Torrance speaks happily of an ‘eternal benediction’ being mediated by the exalted Christ, who remains forever the mediator of heavenly blessings and benefits. (2) We cited Augustine on the eternal self-offering of Christ: ‘as our Priest risen from the dead and established in heaven, Christ now offers sacrifice on our behalf ’. Condren, Olier, and other notable Christian witnesses followed suit in understanding Christ’s priestly intercession to be an eternal self-offering. They could appeal to the Book of Revelation and its picture of the heavenly liturgy, with the Victim, the Lamb who was slain, forever facing the presence of God. That this eternal self-offering of Christ the High Priest takes place ‘through the Holy Spirit to the Father’ develops, in general, the theme of Christ being consecrated by the Holy Spirit for his whole mission (Acts 10: 38; see Luke 3: 22; 4: 14) and, in particular, the view of those commentators who understand Hebrews 9: 14 to intend something more than a vague reference to the spiritual (lower-case) aspects of Christ’s self-sacrifice: the Holy Spirit enabled Christ to make a perfect (and eternal) self-offering to the Father. Condren and Olier spoke vividly of the fire of the Holy Spirit eternally consuming the sacrifice through which the exalted Christ remains forever Victim and Priest. Through the Spirit the heavenly consummation of Christ’s sacrifice continues for all eternity. Apropos of the Eucharistic self-offering of Christ, Torrance expressed vigorously its essentially Trinitarian nature. The last chapter quoted his words about participation in the Eucharist: ‘we worship and pray to the Father in such a way that it is Christ himself who is the real content of our worship and prayer’; and ‘in the Spirit the prayer that ascends from us to the Father is a form of the self-offering of Christ himself ’. (3) Olier, as we saw, pictured Christ the eternal High Priest as continuing to send the Holy Spirit into the Church and the world. The Johannine testimony to the Holy Spirit supports this, when Jesus says: ‘When the Paraclete comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, that One will bear witness to me’ (John 15: 26). The evangelist associates the Spirit not only with witnessing to Jesus but also with new birth and life (3: 5–8; 4: 10, 14; 7: 37–9), with truth and teaching (14: 16–17, 26; 16: 13–15), and with mission and the forgiveness of sins (20: 22–3). Such witnessing, giving new life, teaching the truth, and commissioning on the part of the Spirit are ongoing activities that involve a constant sending by the eternal High Priest. Thus the Spirit universalizes the priestly work of Jesus (Torrance). Here we can deploy the theme of presence. The universal presence of the Spirit accompanies and enacts the presence of the exalted Christ which is a universal presence. Since the CoSender of the Spirit (the risen Christ) is always inseparably there with the Sent (the Holy Spirit),36 and since Christ is present everywhere and in every human life, the Spirit must also be present everywhere and in every human life.