Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 6:10-20; Mark 2:23-28)
A young man was criticizing the Church’s emphasis on eternal life. He thought that it would not bring many of his generation to practice their faith. Better, he said, to stress community and social action. These latter pursuits form parts of the Catholic agenda. But the Church can hardly prioritize them over eternal life. The latter rises from the depths of our souls and gives meaning to God’s love for us. Today’s reading from Hebrews keeps eternal life first and foremost on the Christian agenda.
The author begins by exhorting the addressees to cherish the promise of eternal life. He then argues biblically that God will bestow eternal life on those who believe until the end. He also calls the hope of eternal life an “anchor” or mainstay to keep believers on track. Finally, he sees Jesus as both a model and an instrument of the Christian’s gaining eternal life.
Eternal life sounds to many like “pie in the sky.” They see other purposes for religion like identity and social solidarity. These latter pursuits deserve attention since they form part of the reality that is the Church. However, eternal life is the deepest truth of faith that biblical religion has taught. Hope of it has resulted in unparalleled accomplishments for the Church. First, the Church has existed – despite persecution and corruption – for almost two thousand years. Second, the Church has created an understanding of reality that is as profound as it is comprehensive. And, most of all, the Church has nurtured countless men and women to live wonderfully good lives.