Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday word, 04 Feb 2009

Jesuit Martyrs of the Missions B (04 Feb 2009)
Hb 12. 4-7,11-15; Ps 103; Mk 6. 1-6
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Heirs of God’s Promise

Our semi-continuous hearing of the Letter to the Hebrews will close Saturday. In this series of homilies devoted to it I hope I have been allowing you to hear it with greater appreciation. As it closes you are hearing notes the preacher sounded earlier. The preacher’s purpose was to comfort, encourage and urge his hearers during their pilgrimage through life. The most valuable example for their consideration was Jesus and his obedient faith.

Jesus again appears as the Letter to the Hebrews encourages you and me. At the beginning the preacher reminded us that God spoke to us through a son,/1/ who was opposed, and he struggled and endured even to the point of shedding [his] blood. We have not had to do that for our faith, yet we struggle and endure.

The image discipline conjures is narrower than the preacher intended. For the ancient Greeks, discipline was a part of education, and education was mental, physical and spiritual--”holistic,” we would say today. Because discipline is even for us part of an education, “You are enduring for the sake of an education," is closer to the preacher’s meaning.

This education is greater than mental, physical and pertaining to our human spirit, it is divine. Just as the preacher earlier said that Jesus endured/2/ and was transferred into God’s power and presence--the manner in which Jesus is son--now God treats you [and me] as sons [and daughters], heirs of God’s promise.

God’s promise that we, like Jesus, will share God’s life is the goal of our pilgrimage. The preacher calls us to strengthen our resolve, to continue to free our dispositions for faith. The practical consequences are two, according to the preacher. First, we are to strive for peace with everyone; and we are to live in ways that help each other in the community of faith to grow in our faithful freedom--to sweeten the community and not be that bitter root which defiles it.

Jesus is our model and more than that, the pioneer and perfecter of this faith/3/ of ours. Jesus is the one who leads our transformations as individuals and as a community.

1. Hebrews 1.2.
2. Hebrews 12.2, which began this chapter, verses of which were read yesterday at mass.
3. Hebrews 12.2: see earlier, 2.10 and 5.9 for pioneer. Pioneer captures this leading quality of Jesus. The King James Version uses author and finisher for this pair, the second of which lends us greater appreciation of both our pilgrimage and of faith's goal.
Wiki-image by of Faith Triumphing Over Idolatry is in the public domain.

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