The second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, was taken from the Letter to the Hebrews.
The Letter as a whole offers an opportunity for a taking stock on what it means to be faithful, to be chosen, to be Christian, especially at a time of trial.
Sunday’s passage offers us help and encouragement….
Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons. Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness. So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.
The original setting for the Letter’s writing and reception was probably a time of persecution. For most readers of this blog the testing we face is different, more likely to come from the daily process of seeking to live well, and to respond well to the love of God, in the ordinary experiences of life – with family, work, neighbours. The testing can be acute there too.
To know that we are not facing it alone – that it is part of a regime to help us to succeed – is some comfort, and gives us a sense of direction and purpose to our day.
- In prayer bring to the Lord the things that challenge you. Be sure he knows of them, and renew your trust in his care.
Olympic rings, London, 2012. (c) 2012, Allen Morris.