The second reading on Sunday, the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, is a further reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.
It alerts us to the utterly transcendent gift we receive in Christ – the life of heaven, in communion with God. Mere creatures are raised to the life of the Kingdom.
What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: not a blazing fire, or a gloom turning to total darkness, or a storm; or trumpeting thunder or the great voice speaking which made everyone that heard it beg that no more should be said to them.
But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel’s.
We are constrained in our experience and our understanding to the worldly and the passing. Except that again and again, in love, God draws us to experience which is right on the horizon of what we can experience, and which intimates to us, (makes us – almost -intimate with) that which is beyond our experience and understanding. These flashes of eternity and the transcendent draw us on. The writer of Hebrews attempts to put into human language that more. He draws on the symbols and metaphors that gave Israel a sense of its identity on earth and expands them beyond what honestly can be can conceived.
Such is the privilege that is ours in Christ, through his saving love.
- Count your blessings and give thanks!
Detail of ‘Adoration of the Holy Name’, by El Greco in the collection of the National Gallery, London. (c) 2015, Allen Morris