Monday of Week 2 in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 5.1-10; Psalm 109; Mark 2.18-22

The Epistle to the Hebrews is not couched as a letter but as a treatise or, possibly, a sermon. Its intended audience was probably a community of Jewish converts to Christianity. Although some Bibles attribute it to St Paul, from at least as early as the 3rd Century it has been recognised that Hebrews is a markedly different kind of writing than the authentic letters of Paul, using a distinctive vocabulary and arising from a somewhat different thought world. Guesses as to its authorship have included Barnabas, Clement of Rome, and Priscilla.

The message of Hebrews can be summarised in one word: Persevere! “Let us hold fast to our confession” [10.23, 39; cf 3.6; 4.14; 6.11-12] the author urges; “You have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death” [12.4] he reminds them, suggesting that the community was probably undergoing persecution and that some of its members were considering or had committed apostasy. [cf 6.5-6] The author exhorts his readers to “keep running steadily in the race we have started”[12.1; cf I Corinthians 9.24; Philippians 3.12] following the example of saints both ancient and contemporary [11.1-40] and especially the example of Jesus himself. [12.2-3]

This example was supremely shown in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross [10.10] which the author understands as a priestly act. In a profound meditation on Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane
[cf Luke 22.39-46; John 12.27-28; 17.1-26] he sees Jesus being prepared in the way the high priests of the Old Covenant prepared themselves [cf Leviticus 16.1-34] to make the annual Sacrifice of Atonement (
Yom Kippur) [Hebrews 9.7], the Jesus who learnt to obey through suffering and who has become “for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.” [5.9]

Posted in Daily Reflection.