Reflections

Tuesday of 2nd Week of the Year, January 19, 2021

LAWS ARE SERVANTS OF PEOPLE
Introduction
Our firm hope, the anchor of our faith, is that God made Jesus our high priest according to the order of Melchizedek, a statement rather obscure for us, which Paul will explain further. In any case, our faith is based on the word of God and of Christ.
The function of laws is to order relationships within the community so as to safeguard the rights of God and of the people around us, and to make us aware of our social responsibilities. Yet experience tells us that it is a perpetual human temptation to turn laws into absolutes, to make people servants of the law rather than the law a servant of people. Jesus reminds us of the priority of people and the human community over the letter of the law.
 
Opening Prayer
Lord our God, it is easier for us to seek safety in observing laws and customs than to be personally responsible for the people around us and to serve you with the freedom of love. Give us a bit of your own fantasy, send us the Holy Spirit to fill us with your own inventive and creative love, that we may ever seek new ways to reach out to you and to one another. Grant this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: Hebrews 6:10-20
Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises. When God made the promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you. And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise. Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 and 10c
R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever. or: Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart in the company and assembly of the just. Great are the works of the LORD, exquisite in all their delights. R.
 
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds; gracious and merciful is the LORD. He has given food to those who fear him; he will forever be mindful of his covenant. R.
 
He has sent deliverance to his people; he has ratified his covenant forever; holy and awesome is his name. His praise endures forever. R.
 
Alleluia: Ephesians 1:17-18
Alleluia, alleluia. May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: Mark 2:23-28
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
 
Commentary
The author of Hebrews prays today that his listeners remain firm to the end. When God swore to bless Abraham with prog­eny, he swore by himself since there was no one superior to him by whom he might swear. It was a promise that penetrated the veil separating us from eternity. This upholds and verifies the lasting truth of what is affirmed by our high priest belonging to the order of Melchizedek.
In explaining why his grain-plucking disciples were exempted from the Law, Jesus refers to an incident from David’s life. On one occasion when David and his men were hungry, they were permitted to eat of the holy bread that was reserved for the priests of the sanctuary. In other words, the law of necessity took precedence over precepts of ritual. Mitigating circumstances often alter the binding force of positive law.
Some people are very hesitant to allow anything to interfere with Sunday Mass. And this is generally commendable. But there are certainly circumstances when other legitimate concerns take precedence. For example, the illness of a sick family member may make atten­dance difficult. We must let our well-formed Christian conscience be our guide. Circumstances may clearly alter our ability to attend.
We must remember that Christ is our high priest, not our task master. He certainly understands that circumstances may alter a pattern of conduct. As Christ says, the Sabbath was made for humans, not vice versa.
 
Intercessions:
That Christians may regard the commandments as doors to freedom from sin and evil and as ways to serve God and people, we pray:
That lawmakers everywhere make laws that are humane and serve the good of all, we pray:
That Sunday may be for us a special occasion to grow in love of those who are dear to us, to visit the sick and to serve the needy, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
God our Father, you let the sun shine and the rain fall over the fields sowed by the farmer to satisfy his hunger with bread and rice. Alleviate our hunger for goodness and love and things that last with the bread of eternal life, Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives with you and with us, now and for ever. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
God our Father, we turn our laws and even yours into absolutes by which we imprison ourselves and others. And then, you give us yourself in your Son to remind us that what counts is how we live for you and for one another and share ourselves with each other. Let this Eucharist fill us with the mentality of your Son, that we may be present to one another with a liberating love. For you have set us free from all servitude through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
Laws are made for people, not people for laws. This applies also to God’s laws. They are guidelines, helps for people, not instruments of oppression. May Almighty God bless you and help you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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