Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 4:1-5.11; Mark 2:1-12)
When Martin Luther King and companions called the bus strike in Montgomery, Alabama, many African-Americans walked to work. It was no small sacrifice since the walkers often stood on their feet all day at their jobs. Yet they were willing to do it because they knew the bus strike was a giant step forward in their quest of human dignity. One elderly lady who had participated in the strike expressed her satisfaction at day’s end. “My feet are tired,” she said, “but my soul’s at rest.” The author of the Letter to the Hebrews expresses hope for such rest in today’s first reading.
The Letter to the Hebrews is probably written for Jewish converts to Christianity under the threat of persecution. Their trial is compared to the testing that the Israelites experienced as they wandered through the desert for forty years. Their rest of unification with the risen Christ in glory is taken as the completion of the promise made to their ancestors of entry into the Promised Land.
Rest is always more than inaction. Full rest includes the satisfaction of knowing that we have done our very best. When a teacher returns home after of a full day of instructing, disciplining, and encouraging her students, she can rest easy. When we bear with difficulties to announce the good news of God’s love, we can also sleep easy. The rest that we take is a foreshadowing of the eternal rest of the dead for which we pray on behalf of our loved ones and to which we look forward for ourselves.