Homilette for Monday, January 12, 2009

Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 1:1-6; Mark 1:14-20)

PayPal is an Internet service that allows its users to pay bills without giving financial information. For example, PayPal users do not give their credit card numbers to Amazon or other companies doing business on the Internet. PayPal’s website features a service, which it names “Sarah,” to answer users’ questions. Although Sarah is pictured as a robust young woman, the website admits that she is not a real person. If you type in a question for Sarah, you will probably not receive an answer but only another question like, “What precisely are you looking for?” or “Could you simplify your question please?”

Most people by now have felt frustrated with computer websites like PayPal’s or answering devices that do not provide the information they are seeking. “If there only was a person I could talk with...,” we say. In the reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer is expressing a similar dissatisfaction with God’s revelation in times past. It is “partial” and indirect as it comes in “various ways.” But now, the author says, God has spoken through a human person who understands our needs. The writer goes on to tell us that this person, Jesus Christ, has a message more reliable than an angel’s because he is God’s own Son.

The Letter to the Hebrews was written to keep early Christians from bolting Christ to follow strictly Old Testament beliefs and rituals. We face similar challenges today. Friends and relatives may be leaving the Church to join new religious cults. More typical are the choices of associates that accept only a sampling of what the Church teaches. The Letter to the Hebrews is warning us not to do likewise. It exhorts us to faithfully follow all Church teachings as the surest way to experience eternal happiness.