Tuesday 18th January
Hebrews 6:10ff. After waiting patiently Abraham obtained the long-delayed promise of a son. We too must learn patience from the example of Jesus.
Mark 2:23ff. Jesus defends his disciples for eating on the holy day, since “the sabbath was made for us, not we for the sabbath.”
Am I a Minister of Life?
The Scriptures alert us to possibilities that lie hidden, wonderfully, within the most ordinary events and people of our own household. Routine matters, like family and friends whom we meet each day, can seem so insignificant that not even God, we think is attentive to them. Yet they hold the key to peace and holiness in God’s sight. The reading puts it plainly, “God… will not forget your work and the love you have shown him by your service, past and present.” He notices each action and each thought – so that how we comb each hair on our head comes under divine attention.
Hebrews puts forward another encouraging truth in imagery derived from the ancient tradition of a veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple. It says that Jesus is our forerunner, who has followed the same route that we are taking through life, or to reverse the image, in our daily routine we walk in his footsteps, and so do our family and friends. Jesus has already reached the goal and is at home within the Holy of Holies. If we continue faithfully we too will pass beyond the veil into paradise. In another text from Hebrews, the image extends still further. By his death, Jesus has rent open the separating veil so that all have access into the Holy of Holies, Hebrews 10:19-22. The most human of any human activity, our death, becomes the means of full union with the divine.
Some life-enhancing questions are put to us by today’s readings: * Do I put my life actively at the service of others, seriously seeking peace, welfare and justice for them? * Am I appreciative of the potential for life in people who are handicapped, and even amid my own disabilities? * Am I minister of life, delighting in all its expressions, dedicated to its preservation and handing on?
First Reading: Hebrews 6:10-20
For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Gospel: Mark 2:23-28
One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the Bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”