Immersed in Christ: January 12, 2021
Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 2:5-12; Psalm 8; Mark 1: 21-28.
“You gave your Son authority over all creation.”
Before people began to take Christ’s crucifixion for granted, it raised an objection to what yesterday’s reading said about him: “If Jesus was so great, why did he die defeated on a cross?” Today’s reading says God gave Jesus “authority over all creation.” But the author admits: “At present, it is true, we are not able to see that ‘all things are under him.’” People say, “If Jesus saved the world, why is it in such bad shape?” If God is in control, you wouldn’t know it from watching the nightly news!
Hebrews continues: “But we do see Jesus, who was ‘for a short while made less than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor’ because he submitted to death.” We “see” Jesus in glory with the eyes of faith, because we know he rose from the dead and is “seated at the right hand of the Father.” But why did he have to submit to death for this?
How could we accept the divine words of Jesus as a credible guide for human life if Jesus himself didn’t experience human life as we do? Our experience of life is inseparable from an underlying awareness of inescapable death. For Jesus to say to us. “I am the Way and the Truth of your human lives,” he had to show that the Life he shares with us is not incompatible with the way we experience life on earth or with the truth that death adds to all of our perceptions. If it was not possible for him who is our Life to experience death as we do, then it is not possible for us who die to experience Life as he does. So Jesus “submitted to death so that by God’s gracious will his experience of death should benefit all humanity.”1
On the ground level of practical living, this means his words work for us. They are not the lofty theories of someone whose feet have never touched mud.
It was fitting that God... in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Jesus put his money where his mouth was. There is no reason not to accept every word that comes out of his mouth as the Way we need to follow, the Truth we need to learn, the Life that brings our own lives to fulfillment.2
Hebrews is trying to convince us that we should “turn our minds more attentively than before to what we have been taught, so that we do not drift away.” If people at Mass would listen “more attentively” to the readings during the Liturgy of the Word — and to all the words of Mass — fewer would “drift away” from the Church.
God did give his Son “authority over all creation. The letter continues: “For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression... received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” A “penalty” is not a punishment, but the natural consequence of behavior that “misses the mark.” If we don’t use the words of God to keep ourselves conscious of the Way, the Truth and the Life, we can expect to follow, consciously or not, the directions, trends, assumptions, and patterns of behavior most prevalent in our society. That is not the way to life! 3
Meditation: 1. How often do I read Scripture? 2. How often could I if I chose to? 3. Do I choose to? 4. How am I going to feel about this the next time I pray?
1 Quotes will make use of the New Jerusalem Bible. 2 John 14:6. 3 Hebrews 2:1-3. See New Jerusalem Bible. “Sin” in the New Testament is to “miss the mark,” hamartia.