St. Anthony of Egypt, Abbot

St. Anthony of Egypt, Abbot
Hebrews 6:10-20  +  Mark 2:23-28
January 17, 2023

“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.