Today’s Scripture Reflection

Creighton U. Daily Reflection

January 30, 2023
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 323

Hebrews 11:32-40
Psalm 31:20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Mark 5:1-20

Praying Ordinary Time

Not very long ago, the “answer” on Jeopardy was this book in the New Testament has the most references to the Old Testament.  The correct response was What is Hebrews?  I remember thinking I wonder why and then quickly realized that this was written to the Hebrews – the chosen ones who knew the Old Testament teachings unlike the other “letters” written to the Ephesians, Corinthians, Galatians or even the Romans – all gentiles.  This letter is very different and while Pauline in nature was most likely (according to the scholars) not written by St. Paul.  Clearly, the writer was very knowledgeable of the Old Testament to make such detailed citations.  I was confused by this section of Hebrews so I needed to understand better the whole “letter” to understand this section.  It would appear that the recipients were a Christian community of Hebrews who were perhaps struggling to stay strong in their faith still being influenced by their previous Jewish teachings and practices.  I assumed there were persecutions taking place and staying strong in faith was therefore a daily challenge from all sides.

Having awareness that the recipients were knowledgeable of the Old Testament and the “heroes” described there, the writer reminds the Hebrews of the various faith-filled heroes and what they persevered to keep their faith.  The graphic descriptions would certainly bring to mind the heroic measures maybe even intending that the comparisons would help to put the current situation in perspective. Yet for all that had been endured, the reading points out not all their promises were fulfilled.  Did God abandon them?  No, the promises were perhaps of a different nature to be fulfilled not here on earth. 

God had foreseen something better for us,
so that without us they should not be made perfect.

One may ask – what will be different for us from those who demonstrated such heroic actions.  The answer is simple: Jesus Christ.  In another part of this letter, the author explains that unlike the prophets before, Christ represents the perfect priesthood.  Making the case that this “new” religion is the preferred since we have Jesus! He is the ultimate sacrifice and gift from God – God’s own Son sent to redeem us all. No ongoing sacrifices – the Lamb of God is the One . . . .  What a great reminder for me – we have been gifted with our redemption.  Will we accept this Gift? Will we allow our faith to be reinforced by knowing that we have received everything that we need?  How will we live a life without regrets and loving God with our whole hearts?

As the responsorial conveys:

Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.
Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
    The LORD keeps those who are constant,
    but more than requites those who act proudly.

A song to remind us of the beautiful gift we have been blessed to receive . . . What a Beautiful Name

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