Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hebrews 12:4-7.11-15; Mark 6:1-6)
An old Jewish scholar calls himself “a believing nonbeliever.” He writes that he was raised in a devout Jewish household. He learned to love the Shema, the supreme prayer of the Jews, at Hebrew school. The Shema reads: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” But the Holocaust shattered his faith in God. His relatives along with six million other Jews were slaughtered in Europe during World War II. The man seems like the first century Jewish Christians to whom today’s first reading is addressed. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews pleads with Jewish Christians not to abandon faith in Christ because of their suffering.
The author asks his readers to understand their trials as discipline. He urges them to see how suffering is making them stronger. And he assures them that it will be remembered one day with gratitude. Suffering in faith is the way of holiness because Christ walked it.
The Holocaust displays the depth of evil humans can reach. We may meekly suggest that the crime was not as great as the deicide of the crucifixion. But perhaps it is better to make no comparisons in face of such horrors. The Holocaust, as clearly as any act in history, shows the need for human redemption. We believe that Christ’s death has provided that.