Immersed in Christ: January 16, 2021
Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Hebrews 4:12-16; Psalm 19; Mark 2:13-17.
“Your words are spirit and life.”
Someone said God’s words are meant to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Hebrews gives a Scriptural foundation for that. God’s word cuts through our assumptions, rationalizations and self-deceptions.
The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates and divides soul and spirit. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
This could sound scary. If we are comfortable with our prejudices and preconceptions, and satisfied with our self-image, even if it is a false one, reading Scripture might repel us.
Then we have to read the rest of the passage:
We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor, and find help in time of need.
Now we can be truly comfortable with whatever afflicts us. No matter what we are, if we want to accept God, we are accepted. Jesus accepts us as we are. He will work with us, gradually correct our distorted thinking, gently strengthen us for the choices we are unable to make, almost imperceptibly nudge us in new directions. God’s word may be sharper than a two-edged sword, but when necessary, the Holy Spirit can slide it in so gently we don’t even know we are being cut! The key to all dealing with God is, “Do not be afraid; have no fear.”
Many older Catholics grew up almost afraid to read Scripture. This was because, in the extended aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, they were frequently warned against the danger of “private interpretation” — understood as a sort of personal infallibility which rejected any authoritative interpretation by the Church of the meaning of Bible passages. There is not much danger of this today, especially since Catholic and Protestant experts apply the same principles of biblical scholarship and discuss freely with each other the meaning of the texts. A much greater danger now comes from the ignorance of people who don’t read the Bible at all. The Church is trying to change this.
She is proclaiming that in the Scriptures read at Mass the Word of God:
• is the source and strength of Christian life, a force reinvigorating and renewing the entire people of God;
• is the food and source of prayer for the whole Church;
• gathers the people of God together as one, increases and sustains them;
• draws them more deeply into the mystery celebrated and into the entire mystery of the Lord as a reality to be lived;
• enables them to respond to this mystery:
actively with full faith, hope and love,
through prayer and self-giving,
and not only during Mass but in their entire Christian life;
• brings them continuous growth in the spiritual life;
• enlightens the faithful through the working of the Holy Spirit;
• moves the heart and its desires toward conversion and
This is the Church proclaiming for us: “Your words, Lord, are spirit and life!” Reflect on what she says.
Meditation: 1. Am I afraid to read Scripture?2. Am I too busy to read the word of God?3. Am I too lazy? 4.(If I said “Yes” to any of the above) Should I think about this?5. Write out your commitment to the word of God.
1 Assembled from the Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, 1998, nos. 44-48.