Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 327

Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment,
and of the ill-treated as of yourselves,
for you also are in the body.

In this final chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, the Divine Author reminds his readers, “You also are in the body.” Our sharing with one another is a physical thing, an incarnational reality. We are not angelic beings floating about in an ether of disconnected ideas; rather we are human bodies sharing in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.
In today’s passage he breaks this incarnate mystery open for us like a loaf of bread:
  1. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.
    The Christian Church spread through the Roman Empire by way of the missionaries who travelled from place to place. Poor men and women, they relied completely on the churches to receive them when they arrived, and to prepare them for travel to the next church. They brought news of growth and development, of famine and prosperity; they brought apostolic letters and gospel stories; they shared songs and prayers. An isolated parish or diocese cannot claim membership in the Body. 
    We get a sense of that in reading the letters of Saint Paul and Saint John.
  2. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body. It’s hard for modern Americans to comprehend why people would be jailed for practicing their faith. That’s partly because our religions don’t make much difference.
    But ancient religions changed cultures and economies. Their symbols, rituals and songs affected the way people think, feel and act. So some people were arrested and imprisoned for neither crime nor politics but for religion. It fell to their coreligionists to support them and their families through the hardship.
  3. Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.
    American bishops remind the nation almost daily that marriage is the foundation of society. The Dominant Culture, however, prefers individuals and promotes individualism. Solitary persons are more malleable; they can be persuaded to buy stuff and espouse the political causes that promise more “freedom.” Divorce alienates men from women and children from parents; adultery locks them in isolation. They are sheep without shepherds.
    Christians can only pray for their fellow citizens against that day when “God will judge the immoral and adulterers.”
  4. Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you. Money is founded on the least satisfactory agreements among people. Faith in money is faith in greed and the unstable balance of competing desires. It’s worth changes hourly. We need money to live in this world but we need not love it. There is far more satisfaction and security in our mutual support 
The incarnational vision of life in the world is more realistic than the disembodied idealism of individualism. The Church, gathered with the Incarnate Son of God around the altar of fellowship, survives the centuries because we don’t buy the nonsense the faithless would sell us.

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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.