1st Week, Thursday, Jan 14

Hebrews 3:7-14 / Mark 1:40-45

Remain faithful to God; Encourage one another. 

In the late 1800s a boy was working in a London store. He rose at five o'clock each morning and then worked 14 hours. He lived this routine for two years and then told his mother that if he had to continue like this, he would kill himself.

Then the boy wrote a pathetic letter to a teacher he had in his earlier years. He explained how he was heartbroken and no longer wanted to live. The teacher answered his letter promptly. He praised him, assured him he was gifted, and offered him a job. That encouraging letter changed the boy's life. He went on to become one of England's best-known writers, H. G. Wells, who authored nearly 80 books.


There is the story of the father whose child had been born badly deformed. He was disheartened and could not love it. But one day he said: “If I can only kiss and touch it, then I can completely accept it.” And that is what he did. Jesus did not only heal the leper but he touched him, showing that he loved and accepted the man completely.


What kind of concern do we show other people? What most people need today is not criticism but encouragement.


The Letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish converts to Christianity who suffered much on account of their faith. On account of persecutions from the Jews, many of them had fled from their home country Palestine, to live among pagans. They felt insecure and threatened as “displaced persons”; hence, they were in danger, like their ancestors in the desert, of grumbling, contesting God, perhaps giving up their faith. Today they are told: “Do not harden your hearts, but keep trusting and listening to God.” Are these not fitting words today to a Church in transition, a Church that is unsettled?


Certain words can bring back memories that we would rather forget and experiences that we would rather not remember. For example, the word "repeat" may recall that time in school when we had to stay back for another year at the same level to redo that level because we were lazy and didn't meet the mark for the exams. Or the word "drunk" may remind us of that occasion that we had a drink too many and said and done things we regretted.

In the 1st reading, the word "Rebellion" and that phrase "Day of Temptation in the wilderness" reminded the people of God of how they complained against God and challenged and even tested God. For that they suffered the consequences and that generation wandered in the desert and never saw the Promised Land. But if they didn't learn their lesson, then those words will only evoke bitter memories and they will only dwell in shame and regret. Similarly, when some words make us recall shameful and regretful memories, then we may not have learned the lessons and we are trapped in the past. But just as Jesus healed the leper and freed him from the past memories and experiences of rejection and bitterness, Jesus also wants to heal our past so that we can learn our lessons from them and move on and grow in love and faith. We just have to invite Jesus to re-visit those past memories and experiences together with us and we will see His presence there and helping us to come have a closure and be reconciled with those memories and experiences. Then like the leper who was healed, we too will experience healing and salvation.

 Let us pray: God, our Father, you let your Son Jesus Christ, share the lot of outcasts and bear the sufferings of all. Let us become like him, so that among us no one stays an outcast, no sin remains unforgivable, no misery is a cause for rejection. Make us with your Son, people who lift up the despised with words of welcome and deeds of encouragement.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.