Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17 / Mark 3:1-6
Abraham meets Melchizedek; Abraham gave him a tenth of his booty.
Most people over 40 remember the comedian Jack Benny. A recurring Jack Benny theme was his violin playing. Another was his stinginess. In one of his radio shows a thief put a gun to Benny’s head and said, “Your life or your money?” Benny didn’t answer.The thief repeated, “Your life or your money?” Again, Benny didn’t answer. Now the thief became impatient, saying, “I said, ‘Your life of your money?’ Which will it be?” Benny replied, “Give me time; I’m still thinking.” A recent survey showed that a lot of Catholics are like Jack Benny when it comes go giving to their church. For example, Catholics under 30 and over 50 give half as much to their church as do Protestants. U.S. Catholic
How generously do we give to our church? “Give and gifts will be given to you.” Luke 6:38
Hebrews gives us an example of rabbinical reasoning that compares the absence about data of the origin of Melchizedek with the divine origin of Jesus. The priest Melchizedek comes as if from nowhere, without any levitical, human genealogy mentioned. Likewise, Jesus has no levitical, human genealogy; he is eternal.
We sometimes reduce our religion to a matter of casuistic laws: Is it permitted to heal on Sundays? When does it become a mortal sin if I am late for Mass? Is it wrong if I do not raise my hands for the Our Father? We sometimes behave like immature kids. God wants us to grow up in our faith. Where is the good news of Jesus? Where is our love for the Lord and for people?
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be in the world but not of the world. We are to bear witness to the love and truth of Jesus and not to assimilate the sinful and immoral practices of the world. So the wheeling and dealing, and the scheming and stabbing practices of the world have no place in our lives and our work. It also has no place in the sacred place of worship and prayer.
But as we heard in the gospel, when Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath, there were some people who were watching Him to see if He would cure the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath and hence find something to use against Him. Eventually they went out to plot against Him and discussed how to destroy Him.
What makes it all so shocking and disgusting is that all this was happening in the sacred place of prayer, right there in the synagogue, and from there the evil grew and multiplied. As we come into the House of God to offer worship and praise and thanksgiving, let us cleanse ourselves of sin and all evil thoughts and that was what we did at the beginning of the Mass.
Let us also let the Word of God purify us with His love and truth as we come into union with His in Holy Communion. And as we go off, let us keep Jesus in our hearts and bring the Good News of God's love to the world to heal the world of sin and evil.
Yes, we are called to be in the world, but let us always remember that we belong to Jesus. In this wheeling and dealing, scheming and stabbing world, it is our mission to bring God's love and truth to counter it.
Gracious and holy God, you have chosen us to be your kingdom of peace and mature love. But we have to acknowledge with shame that there is still much room for growth. Make our love richer, more sensitive; Complete the work you have begun in us, that we may have a permanent place in your heart and reflect the adult, healing goodness of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.