Thursday 27th January
Hebrews 10:19ff. We are assured of entrance into the Holy of Holies by the new and living path Jesus has opened for us.
Mark 4:21ff. To those who have more will be given; from the have-nots, the little they have will be taken away.
Promise Surprisingly Fulfilled
The new life-path which Jesus has opened up for us leads to the cross and, through this, on to the heavenly sanctuary. The larger context of this Hebrews text is the Old Testament ritual of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered, this one time of all the year, behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. There, in a smoking cloud of incense, he sprinkled blood towards the place of the Ark of the Covenant, the Ark itself had been missing since the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.. The ceremony signified the people’s purification by a flow of new blood – new life – between them and God. This ceremony takes on a new, poignant meaning on Calvary. Jesus is the high priest, the blood is his own precious blood, the cross is both altar and the place of the Ark. With a slight shift of symbolism, common enough in the Bible, the veil guarding the Holy of Holies is the flesh of Jesus. Both were torn open when Jesus died on the cross. When Jesus “gave up his spirit, suddenly the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom”, (Matthew 27:50-51.)
Through Jesus’ example and the words of Scripture, the lamp is no longer hidden under a basket, and we see new meaning in our daily actions, particularly in those which are difficult. These enable us to complete the ritual of at-one-ment, as if our own blood were flowing towards the place of the Ark, the cross, the eucharistic table, the tabernacle of God’s special presence. If we have this kind of faith and dedication, then “to those who have, more will be given.” If we do not have this kind of faith, then “what little they have will be taken away” and be lost in meaningless exhaustion.
Only by giving in full measure – giving up one’s imperfect interpretation of divine promises yet continuing in the faith that God is straightening the crooked lines of history and of life – will we “receive, and more besides.” By uniting our sense of fulfillment with the death of Jesus, the lamp is taken from underneath the bushel basket and placed on a stand. If we can apply the figure of speech according to the symbolism of Hebrews, the lamp is placed on a stand in the Holy of Holies and we see the wonderful mystery of God’s love in the torn body/veil of Jesus and we experience a new flow of life in our one blood and at-one-ment.
First Reading, Hebrews 10:19-25
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Gospel: Mark 4:21-25
He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”