Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday word, 03 Feb 2009

St. Blase, Bishop & Martyr (03 Feb 2009)
Hb 12. 1-4; Ps 22; Mk 5. 21-43
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

The preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews recalled God’s action past and present, using the metaphor of speech: 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./1/ The preacher elaborated on Jesus as both human,/2/ too, and our great high priest/3/ and pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

The preacher was not teaching only. He was encouraging his hearers and urging them to renew their faith. He used the image of pilgrimage. Plus, he encouraged his sister and brother Christians to look to Jesus/4/--his faith, how he faced opposition and endured.

Next the preacher continued with the roll call of heroes and heroines of faith. That Chapter 11 is best appreciated by reading it aloud from start to finish. The lectionary only allows us to hear the beginning verses. Jesus, the heroes and heroines in their pilgrimages through life allowed God to witness to them, to guide them and help them negotiate obstacles so that they would persevere to draw near to God.

The preacher, as we heard today, returned to Jesus to complete the encouragement the preacher began by recalling his hearers’ situation.
Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. At times you were publicly exposed to abuse and affliction; at other times you associated yourselves with those so treated. You even joined in the sufferings of those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, knowing that you had a better and lasting possession./5/
Looking to heroes and heroines of faith, and esp. to Jesus helps us who have not shed blood for the faith to put things in our pilgrimage of faith in perspective. We look above all to Jesus, as the preacher put it, in order that [we] may not grow weary and lose heart. Jesus strengthens us so we do not succumb to our weaknesses. The message is brief, but more important is that we count on it, that we count on Jesus, pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
1. Hebrews 1.1-2.
2. Hebrews 2.17; 4.15.
3. Hebrews 2.17; 4.14ff.
4. Hebrews 2.9.
5. Hebrews 10.32-34.
Wiki-image is of pilgrims is used according to the GFDL .

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