Hb 10. 32-39; Ps 37; Mk 4. 2-34
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Call To Endure
Jesus died, once for all,/1/ and was exalted as Lord at the right hand/2/ of his Father. Jesus is our forerunner,/3/ the first to enter into God’s own existence, winning entrance for us as well. Yet his victory and new life do not register completely in us yet. Knowing that in our bones leads us to ask if the preacher of the Letter to the Hebrews wasted his breath.
The preacher begins his encouragement of his hearers--then and us now--that we live between days past when [we first] had been enlightened and that day drawing near,/4/ the day of our Lord’s coming, when he will complete our transfer into God’s life. Prophets before the preacher expressed this final action of God with the phrase, the day, and the preacher linked two prophets, as we heard, For, after just a brief moment, he who is to come shall come; he shall not delay.
This fulfillment of human destiny, our Lord’s return, is the reason for our confidence and hope.
Our confidence and hope place all things, especially our struggles, in perspective.
The community, which first received the Letter to the Hebrews, struggled on account of their faith. The preacher expressed his awareness of their struggles this way: after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. The preacher elaborated details: 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. These details involved daily living, even survival.
Some today hear the Letter to the Hebrews more acutely than us. The particulars of our struggles differ, but we struggle no less. We can throw away our confidence in God’s promise to us, or we can hold fast/5/ to it and outlast our struggles.
You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised. That encouragement of the preacher applies to us. It is encouragement we can never hear too often.
1. Hebrews 7.27; 9.12, 26; 10.10.
2. Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 10.12; 12.2.
3. Hebrews 6.20.
4. Hebrews 10.25.
5. Hebrews 3.6; 4.14; 10.23. The preacher prepared in earlier chapters for his
encouragement, just as the preacher prepared in earlier chapters for his central
exposition of Jesus as high priest and the efficacy of his priestly act.
Wiki-image of a crocus in snow in the public domain.