Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 323

Yet all these, though approved because of their faith,
did not receive what had been promised.
God had foreseen something better for us,
so that without us they should not be made perfect

The Author of the Letter to the Hebrews, as he urged his congregation to greater fidelity, reminded them of the sacrifices made by their forebears. These very people had already passed through a severe time of persecution; they had sacrificed much as their families, neighbors and fellow citizens disowned anyone who called on the name of Jesus. He worried that their zeal would flag under the burdens of prosperity and security.

Many years later, we know the Age of Persecution had not ended. This congregation of “Hebrews” would face even more severe ostracisms, imprisonment and martyrdom. The Author could not see the future but he knew those who fail to discipline themselves during the good times will renounce their faith in the hard times.

Many people today complain about their disappointment in God, faith and religion. They claim to be atheists because, they say, God has failed them. It’s not polite to ask, “How sacrificial was your practice of religion when you did attend the Church?” Very often, as they recount their stories, I hear of smoking, drinking and adolescent rebellion – which continue into late life. They would not even quit smoking, despite all the warnings, because it is somewhat uncomfortable. As you sow so shall you reap. Their complaints sound both pathetic and ridiculous.

The Lord urges us to strive to enter through the narrow gate. We must not relax our religious practice because we’re not suffering persecution now. The first amendment right to “freedom of religion” loses its authority if no one practices religion. Faith: use it or lose it.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.