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Letter to the Hebrews

In 13 Today's Church on 2016/02/13 at 12:00 AM

 

  • The readings from the Letter to the Hebrews have been focusing on Jesus as our great high priest and the sacrifice He made on our behalf.
  • We’ve read about how Jesus was perfected through His suffering endured on our behalf, and of how He sympathizes with our weaknesses having Himself been similarly tested, yet without falling into sin.
  • We’ve heard of how Jesus is able to deal patiently with us, of how we should confidently approach Him in times of need, and of how His priesthood will last forever.
  • Today we are reminded by the Letter to the Hebrews of how Jesus is the perfect high priest Who is always able to save those who approach God through Him.
  • What we learn from all this is that Jesus lives to save us from sin and death. As our great high priest, He is constantly interceding with the Father on our behalf.
  • Truly, my brothers and sisters, we see in the priesthood of Jesus Christ the clear and perfect love that our Trinitarian Lord has for all humanity. For in the priesthood of Jesus we see that God wants more than anything else to save us from eternal death!
  • His desire for our salvation, shown in His Mercy, is the greatest sign of God’s love for us.
  • In our weakness and lack of faith, we frail humans are prone to questioning the love of God when suffering arises in our lives. When bad things happen we often wonder how an all-good and all-loving God could allow such a thing to happen.
  • This is especially true when suffering arises that has no direct human agent to blame, such as in the case of natural disasters. Perhaps many of the people who have been so harshly affected by Hurricane Sandy are asking that very question right now.
  • It’s really quite a normal response for people to wonder if things like natural disasters or other widespread forms of suffering are actually punishments from our Lord. But we cannot know if that’s the case or not.
  • Regardless of how our sufferings come to us, as Christians we should strive to look upon our sufferings as a means of making reparation for our sins and for turning more closely to our Lord, for there is great holiness to be found in doing this.
  • While it is easy for our emotions to get the better of us in times of crisis, as people of faith we should strive never to question the love the Lord has for us.
  • For our Lord’s suffering and death on the cross for our sakes is a definitive proof that He does love us. For who would willingly undergo such terrible suffering for the sake of others and at the hands of others if not for love?
  • In examining the fact that our Lord became man, and suffered and died for us and because of us, the only logical conclusion is that He does love us – and loves us in a way that no human can ever fully match. He loves us in an infinitely perfect way, even if we don’t always understand it!
  • And so when we suffer in this life – and we all do – the proper response of faith is not to question and turn away from our Lord.
  • Like the long-suffering Job, we must be willing to accept both good and bad from God’s hands – trusting that both the good we enjoy and the suffering we endure in this life are means for God to help us grow in holiness and prepare for Heaven!
  • Like Job and all the saints who have gone before us, our response to the Lord in every circumstance of life must be one of love and gratitude.
  • And this is where we must turn to both our first reading and our Gospel today. Both Moses and Jesus call us to love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and all our strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  • Jesus tells us that these are the greatest commandments. In other words, this is God’s greatest expectation of us. Love is what our Lord desires the most from us!
  • No doubt all of you who are parents can relate to this. You want your children to love you, do you not? You want your children’s love because you love them so very much.
  • Everyone who loves wants to be loved in return. This is as true for God as it is for man. And so ultimately, this is what our readings are about today. From Hebrews we learn of God’s love for us, while our first reading and Gospel exhort us to love Him in return.
  • St. Bede the Venerable has a famous saying: “He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.” In this quote St. Bede marvelously ties together the two great commandments we hear from our Lord in today’s Gospel.
  • So while there are many ways to love God, such as obedience to His commands, fidelity to prayer, generously giving to the Church, and so forth, the most perfect way to show God love is to love others as we love ourselves.
  • We see a marvelous example of this in the life of St. Martin de Porres, whose feast day the Church celebrates this weekend. Martin was the illegitimate mulatto son of a Spanish nobleman, who became a Dominican brother in Lima, Peru, in the 17th century.
  • Though he was considered an outcast in society, and even though he was sometimes harshly treated by his fellow religious, St. Martin was a master of charity, constantly practicing works of mercy for all in need.
  • Martin was known for always considering the needs of others as more important than his own needs, often depriving himself of food and sleep so that he could help others.
  • But Martin’s greatest work of charity was to help others get to Heaven. Many peopleof all walks of life were converted by his disarming and straightforward love.
  • So St. Martin shows us that our love for others is most perfectly manifested when weact in ways that help them to get to Heaven, just as God’s love for us is most clearlyseen in the fact that He desires to save us!
  • And so as we consider our relationships with one another, we must learn to think interms of salvation. Do we always act in ways that help others grow in holiness?
  • Do we encourage them in the ways of faith? Do we encourage them to keep thecommandments? Are we willing to correct others charitably out of love for theirsoul, even if it is uncomfortable for us to do so?
  • Or do we sometimes do things that hinder another person’s salvation? Do we speak,act, or dress in provocative ways? Do we encourage others to sin or to dwell upon sinful things? Do we stir people to anger, pride, lust, greed, envy, gluttony, or sloth?
  • This past week we celebrated the twin feasts of All Saints Day and All Souls Days, which called us to honor the saints and to pray for the poor souls in Purgatory. But ultimately, these feast days point us toward eternity, and thus call us to prepare for our own death.
  • One great way to prepare ourselves for eternity is by loving others enough to help them along the path to salvation. The beautiful thing about loving others in this way is that by doing so, we also manifest our love for God.
  • May we all learn to love each other better by truly working for one another’s salvation, and may we thereby prove our love for God, Who desires nothing else than to save us from sin and death. St. Martin de Porres, pray for us.

 

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

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