Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thursday word, 05 Feb 2009

St. Agatha (05 Feb 2009)
Hb 12. 18-19,21-24; Ps 48; Mk 6. 7-13
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

"What to say?" My question to myself opened my eyes to a key metaphor used by the preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews, speech. He used it as he began those words familiar to our ears:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word. When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high./1/
God speaking was a remains a banner leading us on our pilgrimages of faith, the preacher’s image for our lives. God speaks most eloquently in and through Jesus, and God continues to speak through Jesus today. God speaks through Jesus’ life, and especially through his suffering death and resurrection, when Jesus took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high. That note of God’s reign the preacher sounded again:
You have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
The preacher contrasted the power God demonstrated when giving Moses the commandments on Mt. Sinai. It was fearsome. Much greater and consoling--though not to be taken lightly--is God’s existence, God’s covenant-life secured for us by the blood of Jesus.

The blood of Abel, first to die in scripture, cried out for God’s justice. The blood of Jesus, our mediator, actively transfers us and all who follow Jesus into God’s life. Not a place, indeed more real than any place, the preacher described it with the dynamics of an ancient Greek city:
  • angels not only represented God they welcome us/2/;
  • we are the assembly living God’s life, in a real way though not yet fully;
  • God is judge and Jesus is mediator for us.
We share in this divinely royal life because the firstborn, Jesus, has made us sharers in his status!/3/ Jesus has secured/4/ our goal, holding it for us at the end of our pilgrimage of faith.

1. Hebrews 1.1-3.
2. see Hebrews 1.7 for angels as ministers, a role God now expands to include us!
3. Hebrews 1.6 designates Jesus as the first-born & Hebrews 11-13 noted that Jesus says he is not ashamed to call them [us] "brothers," and "Behold, I and the children God has given me." In 3.1 the preacher addressed his hearers as holy "brothers."
4. Hebrews 5.9-10!

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