31Jan 31 January, 2013. (Thursday of Week 3 in Ordinary Time)

Hbr 10:19ff. We enter the Holy of Holies by the new and living path Jesus has opened for us.

Mk 4:21ff. The contrast between those who have and the have-nots.

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.”

God’s Promises Fulfilled

The life-path Jesus leads us on goes via the cross and on to the heavenly sanctuary. Behind this Hebrews text lies the Old Testament ritual of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered, once a year, behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. There, amid a smoking cloud of incense, he sprinkled blood towards the place of the Ark of the Covenant. This signified the people’s purification by a flow of new blood – new life – between them and God. This ceremony took on 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”, (Mt 27:50-51.)

At the eucharistic table, the lamp is no longer hidden under a basket, and we see new meaning in our lives, particularly when times are difficult. The Eucharist is the tabernacle of God’s special presence with us. If we have this kind of faith, then “to those who have will more be given.” If we do not have this faith, then “what little they have will be taken away” and be lost in a n ultimately meaningless life.

If we give in full measure we will “receive, and more besides.” By uniting our lives with the death of Jesus, the lamp is taken from beneath the bushel basket and placed on a lampstand. To extent this figure of speech in the light of Hebrews, the lamp is placed on its stand in the Holy of Holies and we see the wonderful mystery of God’s love in the torn veil, the sacrificed body of Jesus, and experience a new flow of life and at-one-ment with God.