What could today’s readings possibly have to do with me? The excerpt from the Epistle to the Hebrews and the responsorial Psalm deal with the role and power of the priest. I can see that this may apply to St. Anthony of Egypt, who apparently lived a long life around 300 A.D. and has been called “the father of monasticism” (he founded some monasteries, and is the patron of various things – and by the way, it is a different Anthony, Anthony of Padua, to whom we pray to help us find lost items).I suppose these readings should remind me to be grateful for the ordained clergy in my life, those who were truly called to be our “representatives before God.” What else could these readings mean about me?
Then Mark’s Gospel deals with Jesus’s refutation of those who would criticize him because his disciples didn’t follow expected norms for piety. Well, OK, but what’s this about old and new cloth, old and new wineskins? Does this contradict the quite valid principles of respect for tradition, preserving our heritage, learning from experience, teaching from what the student already knows? (Probably not!) But what can this excerpt mean about me?
Perhaps this Gospel does apply especially to someone like me, an older “cradle Catholic,” comfortable in the habits of faith, assuming I already know it all. I discover something New here: Jesus knows about practical matters of clothing repair and wine storage. He’s truly living a real human life, the Word has become Flesh. And so I’m yanked into the realization that my question, “What does this mean about me and my life today?” is wrong for today. Instead, “What does this mean about God?”
The first readings are about Jesus as Priest, but also about Jesus as human being who is not glorified by his human self but by God. Truly God and truly human, born in a real place, Bethlehem, and living a real life with real food, drink and clothing, “He learned obedience from what he suffered” and “became the source of eternal salvation.” In the Gospel he announces that he brings a New covenant, New law, New hope, New life. Christ Makes All Things New. “What does this Bible passage mean about me?” can be a good question for prayer and Bible study, but in today’s readings I see something else, true for young and old, new believers and long-lived faithful. It’s not all about me. Today I’m praying “Jesus, help me to live today all about You.”
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