Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 10:32-39; Mark 4:26-34)
During World War II a Protestant community in rural France saved an estimated 5000 Jews from the Holocaust. The Huguenots of Le Chambon-sur-lignon sheltered and hid Jewish refugees from the Nazis and their French collaborators. The townspeople provided their persecuted guests with papers and transport to freedom in Switzerland. Moved by the collective memory of their ancestors being victims of Catholic persecution centuries before, they responded with compassionate service to the horrific ordeal of the Jews. Their story reflects the first reading today.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds the people of their heroism during an earlier persecution. He mentions how they joined in the suffering of fellow Christians who were imprisoned for their faith. The author is encouraging the people not to give up. Rather they must keep practicing what they believe despite trials and the delayed return of Christ.
There are signs that we are entering into a new era of religious intolerance. Hateful fundamentalists are using militant sections of their religious texts to persecute peoples of other beliefs. Equally discomforting, secularists are ridiculing religion as the source of war among peoples rather than the great pacifier of abusive passions that it has predominantly been. Like the Letter to the Hebrews recommends, we must place our confidence in Christ. He will provide the spiritual resources to endure present difficulties while working for peace among peoples.