Tuesday of week 1 in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 2:5-12; Psalm 8:2,5-9; Mark 1:21-28

The letter to the Hebrews is given to us this week accompanying this first week in ordinary time.

It was written perhaps about 70 AD - before the temple was destroyed by the Romans, as it mentions temple sacrifices in the present tense. On the whole, the eastern church are sure that St Paul wrote it, whilst western theologians regard the rather different style and grammar from Paul's to suggest that a disciple of Paul wrote it. Either way it certainly is Pauline in concept.

Taken as a whole (and that is the best way to appreciate it, a reading in one siting is recommended!0 the letter reads asa homily, seeking to encourage the hellenistic jewish community to persevere in their path rather than returning to the older temple based form of community from which they had come, to form the young christian communities. The old ritual sacrifices did have an effect, they reconciled the people to God, but did not have a lasting one. The one true lasting sacrifice is that which Christ undertook [12:2] - and no further sacrifice is ever needed.

It seems a little odd that the quotation from scripture in today's passage is not given a specific reference! If the author knew, why not say? It seems to be from Psalm 8:4-6. Possibly the letter 'went to press' before all the footnotes had been put in! It does however suggest that the intended audience would be expected to know the reference which in turn means they continued in the ancient practice of reciting psalms daily - as many of us do through the reading of morning and evening prayer. The willingness of the author of the letter to the Hebrews to describe Christ through a Psalm should encourage us to do the same, whenever we do read a Psalm, in private prayer, The Office or indeed in a liturgy of the word.

Posted in Daily Reflection.