Hb 3. 7-14; Ps 95; Mk 1. 40-45
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Because the Letter to the Hebrews emphasizes Jesus as eternal High Priest and Lord of all, we can miss the community the preacher encouraged. They were on the edge of losing their faith. The preacher asserted that they were God’s house,/1/ God’s people. Being God’s house, then as now, depends on keep[ing] hold of the boldness and glorying in our hope in Jesus./2/
A pilgrimage, lifelong journeying, describes living faith; and pilgrimage is the metaphor the Letter to the Hebrews offered. The chosen people’s early history included their pilgrimage from Egypt to Canaan, from slavery to freedom as God’s own. The preacher of Hebrews was certain that God continued to speak and to reveal through scripture in the present. He used the Holy Spirit says to introduce scripture passages. The preacher recalled a portion of that early pilgrimage and introduced it with the Holy Spirit says.
The Holy Spirit says:The most real and most important pilgrimage is not over land or through desert. The most real and most important pilgrimage is of the heart. Heart in scripture was the seat of knowledge and the seat of choice. To harden one’s heart is an interior rebellion, a turning from God. I can believe and have a hard heart at the same time. If I believe but do not practice what I believe, then I am faithless, or as we heard proclaimed, I have an evil and unfaithful heart, and I choose to forsake the living God.
“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert, where your ancestors tested and tried me and saw my works for forty years.”
The preacher had reminded the community that Jesus had remained faithful./3/ The pioneer/4/ of our faith offers us a model to live faithfully. We are faithful when we know our hearts, and like Jesus, are faithful to the one who made us./3again/
The fidelity of Jesus models for us how we are to make our ways in the world. Because Jesus is our merciful and faithful high priest,/5/ we ought not let ourselves be paralyzed by our rebellion against God. Our rebellion can help us diagnose how we resist faithful attentiveness to God’s Holy Spirit and encourage us to place ourselves into the merciful heart of Jesus, who forgivingly reorients us and makes us sharers in his courage to stand faithful.
1. Hebrews 3.6, which is not heard in its semi-continuous, weekday reading.
2. Also Hebrews 3.6. Boasting is the literal meaning of the Greek. However, it is not prideful, egocentric (the first connotation that may come to mind) as much as it is glorying in Jesus, who is our hope.
3. Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to the one who appointed [lit. made] him, just as Moses was "faithful in (all) his house." ... Moses was "faithful in all his house" as a "servant" to testify to what would be spoken, but Christ was faithful as a son placed over his house: Hebrews 3.1b-3, 5-6, not heard in its semi-continuous, weekday reading. Also Hebrews 2.6, Jesus was faithful as a son.
4. Pioneer captures leader in Hebrews 2.10 as well as leader and perfecter in 12.2.
5. Hebrews 2.17
Wiki-image of cross sculpture is used according to the GFDL.