4th Week, Wednesday, Feb 3
Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15 / Mark 6:1-6
A new clergyman gave a great first sermon to his new congregation. The following Sunday, his new congregation returned with great anticipation and high expectation. To their surprise, the pastor repeated the same sermon. He did the same thing the next two Sundays.The congregation sent a committee to him for an explanation. He said to them, “I plan to keep repeating that first sermon until I see you doing something about it.” The author of the Letter to the Hebrews employed similar repetition when it came to exhorting his readers not to be discouraged and to persevere in their struggle in the faith.
How seriously do we take to heart the word of God that we hear each Sunday? “If you only knock long enough ... you are sure to wake up someone.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The author of Hebrews encourages those who had to flee from Jerusalem for the sake of following Jesus. Yes, their trials are hard to bear, but God loves them. He is a Father who corrects and tests his children out of love, that their faith may become more mature through the sufferings and difficulties that are part of life and of our being Christian. Do we too accept this?
A man or woman like us from down the street, whose parents we know, how dare he or she speak God’s word to us – if it is God’s word? Jesus, the town carpenter whom everyone knew, how could he work miracles and where did he get this strange message? The Church with all its faults and the priest who is not any better than we are, how dare they speak to us in the name of God? God speaks through ordinary people. God’s word and message are stronger than the weak messengers he sends to speak his prophetic word. The people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus. Do we accept those who speak out for what is right and good?
The 1st reading gives us a direction and the balance between discipline and punishment. It says: When the Lord corrects you, do not take it lightly, but do not get discouraged when He reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that He loves and He punishes all those that He acknowledges as His son. Suffering is part of your training. God is treating you as His sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him?
So when parents discipline their children, some sort of punishment will be necessary, be it corporal punishment or whatever. And when God wants to instil and build up our discipline, He will correct us and even reprimand us through His chosen instruments. On the other hand, when we face rejection and opposition, we also need to see it as a means to train us in discipline and obedience to the Lord.
Jesus, in the gospel, had to face rejection and opposition, but He showed how disciplined He was in carrying out the mission from God. As disciples of Jesus, let us accept hardships and suffering, rejection and opposition. Let us look at these as means to strengthen us to do God's will.