Hebrews 5:1-10 / Mark 2:18-22
A priest was invited to a school for the deaf to give a talk to its students. An interpreter translated everything he said into sign language. During his talk the priest noticed the interpreter frequently pointing gracefully to the palms of her hands. He learned later that pointing to the palms of the hand is the sign for Jesus Christ. How fitting a sign for Jesus, he thought.Of all possible signs, none could hardly be more meaningful than the nail prints in the palms of Jesus’ hands, symbolizing who he was: The Son of God, who took flesh and suffered for us, even to the point of being nailed to a cross.
This very well-known passage of Hebrews evokes the central place in our faith of the passion and glorification of Christ. Jewish priests had to offer first sacrifices for their own sins. Christ replaced the “I will not serve” with the service of obedience to the will of the Father.
You know from experience that change is always a problem to us. It calls us away from the security of our ingrained habits and our certainties and it forces us to go unfamiliar ways. That is why, as if by nature, we resist change. It is an inherent law of Christianity to be always open to renewal and conversion. The trouble is that the old and the new are usually intolerant of one another.
When we’re suffering, mentally or physically, do we ever recall that Jesus suffered, too, and knows what we are going through?
“Jesus didn’t come to take away suffering....He came to fill it with his presence.” Paul Claudell
New ways of doing things are interesting and exciting. From cooking with firewood to gas cooking or electric cooking is really a leap of a change. Yet new ways are not always immediately understood and accepted, even though they may be more effective and productive. In fact, new ways are often viewed with suspicion and grilled with questions and they will be heavily criticised when a small fault happens.
The way of Jesus in proclaiming the Good News of God's love was certainly unconventional and revolutionary, but it also irked the other religious groups of His time like the scribes and Pharisees. While the religious attitude at that time was concerned with religious purity and keeping the rituals, Jesus came along and feasted with the sinners and those considered impure. Jesus made God's love incarnate - people, especially the sinners, could see, hear, touch and feel the love of God, and they were told that God loves them all, sinners or not.
As how the 1st reading described that a high priest is taken out of mankind and is appointed to act for men in their relations with God, so that he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or uncertain. So Jesus, the Son of God, the high priest of God, feasted with all alike to celebrated God's love for them and to lead them back to God. Although He was Son and high priest, He learnt to obey through suffering and He became for all who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. So, fasting and penance are still ways to express our love for God; but in Jesus, the way of obedience brings about a deeper meaning to fasting and doing penance. The way of obedience is not just a new way; it is the way of Jesus who is THE WAY.
Let us Pray:
Unchanging and ever-new God, you want us to be your pilgrim people on the march with Jesus, your Son, toward a new future of justice and love. Do not allow us to be suffocated in being contented with old habits and sluggish ways. Help us to accept the pain of leaving the familiar behind us and open us to the challenge of the Gospel to become more like your Son who guides our faltering steps, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen