1st Week, Friday, Jan 15

 Hebrews 4:1-5, 11 / Mark 2:1-12

Be on guard; Strive to enter God's rest: heaven. 

An exasperated mother asked her little boy, "How do you ever expect to get into heaven?" Johnny thought a minute and said, "Well, I'll just run in and out, and in and out, and keep slamming the door. Finally, someone will say, 'For pity's sake, either come in or stay out!'

Then, I'll go in. " I think the author of the Letter to the Hebrews would like that story. For he is doing for us what the mother did for her little boy. He is making us aware that entering God's rest (heaven) should be a major concern for us. He is making us aware that the loss of heaven is the ultimate and unforgivable failure of a human life.


The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews tells the Jewish Christians, dispersed on account of their faith, not to seek to return to the city of rest, Jerusalem, and to Palestine, but rather to seek the rest and peace of living in the love of God; they are on the march to the promised land of heaven. They should not seek the “rest” of being installed securely in their home country. Likewise, we should not seek our “rest” and security in the things we have, the place we live, but be constant seekers of the rest of being at peace with God and people.


How does our everyday life reflect the fact that our ultimate destiny is heaven? "Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Joe Louis, former heavyweight champion


Miracles are called “signs” in the Bible. They are, like the cure of the paralytic, visible manifestations that something has happened inside the person. The paralytic can walk. He can stand up and move as a human being, as a person who is forgiven and can get up from the paralysis of sin. Could not we too give “signs” to the people around us by raising them above their miseries, that God is alive in us?


There is this quote from the series "Band of Brothers", a series about the lives of soldiers in WW II and a soldier said this after parachuting into Normandy in France, which was occupied by the Germans. He said - "if some way I could get home again, I would find a nice peaceful town and spend the rest of my life in peace" Certainly it was also the wish of every soldier who is fighting in a war; war is hell, even for the soldier. But it is not just a soldier's wish to find a quiet place and to spend the rest of his life in peace, especially having gone through the horror of war.

It is also our desire to live a nice and quiet life and spend the rest of our days in peace. The 1st reading would term this as a place of rest, and it is a place God has promised and prepared for us, a place that is beyond this world. But, the 1st reading also warns us to be careful not to forfeit and lose this place by being disobedient to God. To be disobedient to God is to sin and turn away from Him. So, what does it mean to be obedient to God?

Among other things, to be obedient to God is to forgive others just as God has for given us. In the gospel, the scribes questioned Jesus as He declared the forgiveness of the sins of the paralytic.

When we do not doubt that God has forgiven us in Jesus, we would also likewise forgive those who sin against us. And then we will be able to spend the rest of our days in peace.


Let us pray: God, our Father, we are your people, at times paralyzed by our fears and our fascination with sin.  Let your Son speak among us his mighty words of forgiveness and courage, to raise us above ourselves, above our cowardice and compromises, that we may go resolutely the way to you and to one another by the power of Jesus Christ, our Lord.