January 27, 2017
Friday, Week Three, Year I
Hebrews 10:32-39; Psalm 37; Mark 4:26-34.
Hope Keeps Us Going
To help us persevere in living the divine life we have received, Hebrews urges us to “recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.”
“Enlightenment” in the Greek church is another word for Baptism. Hebrews reminds the readers that after they had become Christians, “You cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting.” We who have “become Christ,” who have entered in with him already “behind the veil,” possess eternal life. We know God, The Life of Christ in us is our Light. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” To be baptized is to be enlightened and enlivened simultaneously “in Christ.”
Knowing this, being conscious of this in faith, is what gives us hope. And hope empowers us to love beyond all human bounds. We can afford to give all, because as long as we are in union with Christ we already possess all we can desire. And nothing can deprive us of it.
It is true, we have not entered into complete possession of what is ours. We already possess divine life but not the full experience of it. That is something we wait for in hope. It will be ours when Jesus comes again — either at the end of the world or at the end of our lives, to take us individually “through the veil” of the flesh in death and into the “end time” with him. Then we will be fully “behind the veil.”
But we need to persevere in faith and hope. Hebrews exhorts us:
Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need patience to do God’s will and receive what he has promised.
We won’t have to wait forever: “For ‘just a brief moment, and he who is to come will come. He will not delay.’”
Christians live life on the fast track. We know that, no matter how many years we live, we will be at the finish line before we know it.
It is important to “look to the end.” Respice finem. The gift of Wisdom is defined as “the habit of seeing all things in the light of the last end.” Hebrews has told us we are already in possession of that end. Jesus, “by a single offering has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” We just have to hold on to what we have.
Jesus predicted, “false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” Our culture, like every other, distorts the truth and blinds us to values Jesus taught. And people follow the culture, doing all sorts of things because “everybody” does them. The result, Jesus said, is that “because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold.” People lose their taste for religion. They stop going to Mass.
But Hebrews calls us to keep remembering the promise. Jesus is the one who made it: “The one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Is it passing from the sublime to the trivial, from vision to law, if we repeat Hebrews’ exhortation: “We should not absent ourselves from the assembly, as some do, but encourage one another.” No, it is just being practical. We need something to remind us of what our culture chooses to ignore: “the Day draws near.” The Mass makes it present.
Meditation: What sustains my conscious hope in Christ’s promises? What can?