Hb 4. 1-5; Ps 78; Mk 2. 1-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Our goal is to live faithful lives as best we can each day, every day. Jesus, who is faithful, is our model. He is our pioneer, our scout, who has gone ahead of us.
The Letter to the Hebrews announced early that Jesus received the reward of his faithfulness and was “crowned with glory and honor.” By glory the preacher of Hebrews meant God’s very life.
God’s life creates, holding in existence at every moment you and me and all created things. God invites us to share God’s life, and faithful attention to Jesus, who revealed God in life, death and resurrection, is the way.
The preacher used the metaphor of the people Israel in the wilderness. In that metaphor God released them from slavery to freedom, from Egypt to Canaan. On their way they were faithless rejected God. Like a child tests a parent to the limits of patience, the people’s faithlessness tested God. God responded by swearing an oath, they shall not enter my rest.
What is God’s rest?
The preacher followed the practice of putting scripture passages in conversation to understand and appreciate better what a less clear passage might mean.
God rested from his work of creation on the seventh day: that Genesis passage was one. The other was, “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts.’”/1/ The warning was spoken after the people reached the promised land./2/
That today is each day because God creates even at rest. When you and I rest, it is because we need to make up for what we lack. God is always overflowing with life for humans. Also, God’s rest is far more than the Promised Land, to which one passage alluded; it is not a ceasing of creative activity, by which some might misunderstand another passage. God’s rest to which faithful people are invited is God’s life, God’s very existence.
Because God creates and knows hearts, our pilgrimage through life is not through space but to accept God’s invitation by keeping the eyes of our hearts and minds fixed on Jesus, who offers us the glory of divine life precisely if we hold fast to our faith--that is, practicing our belief in, with and through Jesus each day and every day.
1. Hebrews 4.7. The preacher repeated that in his interpretive search in this chapter, yet the designers of the Lectionary withheld it from the semi-continuous, weekday reading.
2.The omitted verses are 7-8: God once more set a day, “today,” when long afterwards he spoke through David, as already quoted: "Oh, that today you would hear his voice: 'Harden not your hearts.'” Now if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterwards of another day. [The ancients considered the order of appearance of passages in scripture to be the same order in which things happened and God offered revelations.]
Wiki-image of the highest heaven is in the public domain.