Hb 6. 10-20; Ps 111; Mk 2. 23-28
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Jesus is our great high priest,/1/ we have heard the Letter to the Hebrews remind us. He is ours because God appointed him/2/ and because Jesus fully sympathize[s] with our weaknesses--our need to be saved--because [Jesus] was tested as we are, yet had no part in sin./3/ Our salvation depends upon our responsive faith because God in Jesus by their Spirit continually calls us to share God’s life. Both the more often we respond and the more wholeheartedly, the more mature we continue to grow. This maturity/4/ is a learning, which capitalizes on every experience to build our character, that is, our ability to choose well. Faith, then, is moral maturity.
Jesus is our model. Not only are we to pattern ourselves on Jesus’ openness to experience and learn moral maturity, we are to build on our first--introductory--knowledge of and heartfelt encounter with Jesus. We, who were once elementary learners of Jesus, are to be teachers of Jesus, that is, communicate him to others and to the world. We communicate Jesus by demonstrating love for God’s name. Love for God’s name appears only here in the New Testament. Just as names stand for us, so this unique phrase means we demonstrate love for God.
Even that is rare in the bible, which says often that God loves humans and that humans are to love humans. God’s love for us shapes our love for others. This is the active, daily texture of our baptisms, our experience of God’s noble word and the life-giving gifts of the coming age./5/ They are ours because of the singular gift of Jesus, who obtained them for us by his sacrifice once for all.
To have shared in the gift Jesus is and then to reject him has heavy consequences, the preacher warned his first hearers. Like him, I am confident of you. You demonstrate Christian love to others in many ways. By doing so you build on our foundation, Jesus. Rather than be satisfied with the basic instruction of our Messiah/6/ you make your love known, felt; you grow, learning from what you experience./7/
Your Christian love for others binds you to others the way God is faithfully bound to us--by an oath, as the preacher recalled scripture. God’s fidelity to us reminds us of God’s fidelity to Jesus, to whom God was faithful beyond death. God’s fidelity to Jesus makes him our high priest. It is to this identity of Jesus, high priest forever, that the preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews will turn tomorrow and four days more.
1. Hebrews 4.14.
2. Hebrews 5.1.
3. Hebrews 4.15.
4. Hebrews 6.1.
5. Hebrews 6.5.
6. Hebrews 6.1.
7. Hebrews 5.8!
Wiki-image of gold mosaic of Jesus is used according to the the GFDL.