Please note: two reflections are given below, each based on the First Reading and/or Responsorial Psalm of the day. The Year I readings apply to years ending in an odd number (for example, 2023), while the Year II readings apply to years ending in an even number, such as 2024. The Gospel Reading is the same in both years.
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time [Year I]
Hebrews 6:10-20 + Mark 2:23-28
“That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
This year, in these first weeks in Ordinary Time, we are hearing at weekday Mass from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews. This letter is unique in the whole of the Bible in how it bridges the two Testaments. Early in the history of the Church a heresy existed called Marcionism, whose believers rejected the entire Old Testament. They did not believe the Old Testament books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes Christians even today reject every aspect of Jewish belief and thought. The Letter to the Hebrews beautifully helps us to appreciate our Jewish heritage as members of Christ’s Body.
One of the more common themes of Hebrews is Jesus as our great High Priest. Many Christians reject the belief that Jesus means for there to be an ordained priesthood within His Church. Hebrews helps us to see how and why men are called by ordination to share in Jesus’ priesthood.
In today’s First Reading we hear about Abraham, who himself foreshadows the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The reading specifically mentions the virtues of faith and patience by which Abraham carried out the priesthood he had received from God. The sacrifice called for from priests—whether those who live out the baptismal priesthood or the ordained priesthood—seems taxing at times. Yet priestly sacrifice always need to be carried out in light of “the promise” of which we hear in today’s passage. “And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.” Keeping in mind God’s promise to us not only gives us hope in the midst of sacrifice. It helps us offer sacrifice rightly.
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Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time [Year II]
I Samuel 16:1-13 + Mark 2:23-28
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.”
Today’s Gospel passage focuses on “‘the Son of Man [who] is lord even of the Sabbath.’ ” To say that this Son of Man is lord “even” of the Sabbath is to point out that the meaning of this lordship stretches back to God’s creation of the universe. The origin of the Sabbath is not the Third Commandment, but the events described in the first chapters of Genesis. Jesus as the Son of Man is a lord who is divine and human.
But today’s First Reading and Responsorial speak of the human lord, King David. David, like all the rightful kings of God’s People, ruled through the anointing that came from the Lord God. Both the First Reading and the Responsorial speak of this anointing. The First Reading links this anointing to the Power of the Holy Spirit: the scriptural author notes that “from that day [of David’s anointing] on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
In the ministry of the Old Testament kings, it was through the Holy Spirit that they acted as lords. In the Nicene Creed we profess belief in the Holy Spirit, “who has spoken through the prophets.” We might well also profess that this Holy Spirit has acted through the kings. So also does He act in our own day: ruling the Church through her ordained ministers, and ruling throughout the world in the daily lives of the lay faithful through their fidelity to their baptismal promises.