Hebrews 9:24-28

I am not privy to the ways of the lectionary, either ancient or modern, and sometimes I see the connections clearly between the readings and sometimes I do not. I had a hard time making sense of how Hebrews 9:24-28 fits with the other readings for the Thirty Second Sunday and the responsorial Psalm, each of which focuses on those who are faithful and generous in their poverty and God’s compassion for the poor, the outcast and marginalized. I thought I might avoid posting altogether, until I read, and reread, Barbara Green's post. She has dealt beautifully with these readings in her post below. The conclusion of her entry made me wonder if it could be applicable to the reading from Hebrews; she wrote, "but these gifts of compassion, where the widows continue to be generous despite everything, offer an even greater invitation to us, which Jesus himself seems to recognize and learn from, be inspired by. Give from our substance, give it generously, compassionately."

While she did not draw a connection from 1 Kings and Mark to the reading from Hebrews, her last line, "give from our substance, give it generously, compassionately," drew me to the description of Christ’s sacrifice in Hebrews. Is this what was intended by those who compiled the lectionary? There seems to be little in common with the cosmic significance of Christ’s sacrifice and the generosity of the widows, but is that truly the case?

Advertisement

Hebrews is a text that has usually intrigued me due to Platonic categories of the "ideal" and the "copy," that show evidence of Hellenistic Jewish philosophy, such as that found in Philo of Alexandria, grounded not in the compassion of widows, but in Greco-Roman metaphysical categories. But the more I reflected on Green’s line, "give from our substance, give it generously, compassionately," it also sums up Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, made once for all, and the category of the "real" at which the author of Hebrews aims. Christ gave of his true substance, his being, so that we too could enter with him not into a sanctuary "made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one", but "into heaven itself." We should be inspired by this, just as by the widows to "give from our substance, give it generously, compassionately." It also makes me thankful that we can rely on other scholars, other thinkers, who in their work and writing give of themselves, for inspiration can strike in many, unforeseen, ways.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Native American protestors hold hands with parishioner Nathanial Hall, right, during a group prayer outside the Catholic Diocese of Covington on Jan. 22, 2019, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
The furor over a chance meeting between Catholic high school students and Native American protesters underscores the need to listen and learn from indigenous voices.
Marlene LangJanuary 23, 2019
The staggering parliamentary defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May, seen here leaving 10 Downing Street on Jan. 23, pushed the country even further from safe dry land. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
After the stunning defeat of Theresa May's exit deal, Scotland is looking anew at independence, and the U.K. government fears economic disaster.
David StewartJanuary 23, 2019
Michael Osborne, a film director, documents the damage from a mud slide next to his home in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, after three days of heavy rain. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
The conceit of California-as-disaster-movie is ridiculous. But maybe watching our fires and mudslides helps other states consider both their own fragility and their underlying strength.
Jim McDermottJanuary 23, 2019
A commitment to religious liberty demands that effort be devoted to resolving, rather than exacerbating, any real or apparent tension between religious obligation and civil duty.
The EditorsJanuary 23, 2019