FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION: FOURTH WEEK OF THE YEAR
The readings for the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time clarify our hope and point out that we have already received what it promises, if we just hold on to what we have and live it.
Invitation: To “look to the end” of perfection that Jesus has already won for us and persevere in living our faith, with confident hope in what it promises.
For prayer and discussion: What below helps you love and live your faith?
Hebrews 11:32-40: Our “salvation” is like nothing ever won, prayed for, or even imagined on this earth. The “perfection” or “end” for which we are destined is totally identified with Jesus Christ and what he achieved through his Sacrifice.
Hebrews 12:1-4: We are working now to bring about the goal of the “end times” —to form ourselves and others into that “perfect man who is Christ come to full stature.” That is what we are moving toward as a “pilgrim Church.”
Hebrews 12:4-15 urges us, first, to put our sufferings into perspective: “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” And second, to see the positive side of suffering. Hebrews says to look on it as training (in faith, hope, and love).
Hebrews 12:18-24: What we have come to by grace is “nothing known to the senses.” We have entered “behind the veil” with Jesus our High Priest. In him we are in the presence of God in a way that entrance into the “sanctuary” and “Holy of Holies” (exclusive to the high priest) only faintly symbolized. We express this in our churches by making our sanctuaries equally accessible to all who are “priests in the Priest” by Baptism, although in practice we have not always been consistent.
Hebrews 13:1-8: Eucharist is a celebration, and should be an experience, of unity. Everything should make visible that we are one body, all equal and equally participating in the sacrifice of Jesus made present in the celebration.
Hebrews 13:15-21 sums up the entire letter: all our prayers, works and sufferings on earth are offered to the Father “through” Jesus Christ. All our Mass prayers end with “through Christ our Lord,” because we never speak to God just as isolated individuals, or even just as humans. We exist, live, act and speak always as the body of Christ, “in him,” as members of his body and as “priests in the Priest.”
- How am I already “perfect”? How will my death change this?
- Imagine what it would be like if everyone were fully surrendered to God’s will.
- How does the Mass encourage me to deal with setbacks, opposition and hardship?
- What do I see at Mass? Think of the scene. What does it say to me?
- What reminds me at Mass that we are all one equal body in Christ?
- How can Mass help me experience of the mystery of my unity with Jesus and with all the members of his body?