Hb 2.5-12; Ps 8; Mk 1. 21-28
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
To appreciate the movement and the course of reasoning of the Letter to the Hebrews hearers and readers today need to enter into the world of the one who preached it. Most important to accept is the preacher’s view that the realm of God and the realm of human activity were separate. Moreover, the realm of God was more
real and more certain.
That was the common worldview. For Jews the temple, the abode of God in the world, was the place where humans had some access to God’s realm. In Jesus, the access became personal and deeper--more certain and secure.
God’s self-revelation was various through time and most concrete in Jesus, who as risen Lord is the radiance of divine glory, the very impression of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word,/1/ as we heard at the beginning of Hebrews yesterday.
Today we have heard that this different being--God’s self--has drawn near to us, indeed became one of us.
The preacher cited Psalm 8 and commented in a way that makes us breathless that Jesus is both at his Father’s right hand and one with us.
“What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet.”The preacher’s comment, which took away the breath of the first hearers, was that Jesus “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels,” that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Tasting death meant that God’s very essence died “for a little while!” Even “for a little while” God dying was unacceptable to ancients. They considered separation of the divine and human realms absolute. Jesus ended the separation by his suffering and death.
The preacher was a realist. He saw what others saw: all things are not yet subject to Jesus. The preacher encouraged his hearers to see Jesus, the risen Lord. When you and I look about today we are no different. We need each other to encourage us to seek and discern Jesus always, especially when it seems that death prevails and neither the creative word of God in Jesus or his life-giving death really leads us and perfects our suffering, fractured world.
1. Hebrews 1.3. The Greek, which English translates with impression or imprint, gives us our word, character.
Wiki-image of Jesus as Savior of the world is in the public domain.