Thursday, January 15, 2015


Hebrews 3:7-14

"The Holy Spirit says: Oh, that today you would hear his voice, "harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert, where your ancestors tested and tried me and saw my works for forty years.  Because of this I was provoked with that generation and said, "they have always been of erring heart, and they do not know my ways.  As i swore in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest. Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart, so as to forsake the living God.  Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today," so that  non  of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.  We have become partners of Christ if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end."

St paul above alludes to the experience of the Israelites as can be found in Numbers 14:1-38.  On this occasion the Israelites were so paralyzed by fear that they refused to seize possession of the Promised Land.  A few of the scouts sent out to he reconnoiter the land came back breathing fear and anxiety into the hearts of the people, and the people allowed fear to trump their trust in God's word spoken to them.

The people of Israel were on the threshold of entering the gift God had promised and they allowed fear to rule the day and thus they were denied entrance, only Caleb and Joshua were trustworthy.

Same is true for the people St paul is writing to in the letter, as well as, for us. We find ourselves each day on the threshold of heavenly inheritance and we too must not let fear trump our faith and trust in the living God.   It seems St Paul is reminding the folks of his time and us that we too can forfeit our inheritance by forsaking the lord and allowing deceit to cause a degeneration of our faith and loyalty.

This is why  St paul insist that we encourage each other daily.  Daily we need a boost.
We take vitamins daily.  We have our daily cup of coffee.  We watch the daily news.  Perhaps we ride or walk or run a few miles daily.  We have daily routine that keeps us percolating in life.

What routines do we have in our faith journey that encourages us and gives us that daily boost?

St Paul is clear that we need to encourage one another while it is today.  Today is the only opportunity we may have.  We only have a limited number of 'todays'.  We need to embrace the opportunity as it comes.

Here is a prayer to the Holy Spirit penned by St Augustine that might be beneficial for us

Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for that; interesting thoughts. I particularly liked how you refered us back to the book of Numbers - that was helpful. I also liked the St. Augustine prayer.
Just one question: did St. Paul write the letter to the Hebrews?

parishpriestblogger said...

IT depends on which scholar to whom you choose to listen? Early on, Eastern Christianity believed it was authored by St Paul, either he wrote himself (St John Chrysostom thought) or that a secretary or disciple wrote it (St Clement of Alexandria thought this idea). In the western church, some excluded the work from Paul's collection (St Cyprian), other's denied it (Tertullian), but St Augustine and St Jerome came to believe the same as the Eastern church that it did belong to Paul. St Thomas Aquinas believed it to belong to Paul as Well. Martin Luther claimed it was written by Apollos. The Council of Trent listed it as belonging to the Pauline Epistles. Modern scholarship seems to differ in their opinion which is the norm for modern scholarship. Though they do admit of similarities in the writing of Paul and the text of the letter to Hebrews. Some suggest because Timothy is mentioned in the letter 13:23 it suggest a confirmation of it belonging to the circle of Paul and his associates, perhaps a disciple of Paul. Thus, to say it is Pauline in origin is not to speak a falsehood, it is just easy to say Paul rather than a disciple of Paul, since many do not have the biblical background to understand everything that went on in the 2000 years that brought us to this point in biblical textual criticism.