Homilette for Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

(Hebrews 10:19-25; Mark 4:21-25)

Ancient Christians saw the pelican as a symbol of Christ. Their belief stemmed from the legend that the mother pelican pecked open her breast to give her offspring blood for nourishment. The believers understood Jesus’ shedding his blood for the salvation of sinners as the same type of life-giving sacrifice.

The Letter to the Hebrews provides vivid testimony to the efficacy of Jesus’ blood. For the last couple of weeks, readings from Hebrews at mass have testified how Christ’s blood surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant since he is totally unblemished. In fact, according to the letter, his Precious Blood has cleansed completely of sin those who partake of it. We have opportunity to drink his blood, like the pelican chicks are portrayed as taking the blood of the hen, when we receive the Eucharist. We might add that the fullness of the sign of blood is perceived in the consecrated wine -- the blood of the grape.

Today’s passage from Hebrews ends with an exhortation. Since those who drink the blood of Christ live anew, they should look out for their co-sharers in community. We surmise that the Letter to the Hebrews was written during a time of persecution when some Christians were falling away out of fear. Today people are leaving the Church because of the pitfalls of a secular age. We need to heed Hebrews’ plea that we encourage fellow Christians to stay the course of faith.