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From: Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15

The Example of Christ (Continuation)

[4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shed-
ding your blood.

Perseverance in Affliction

[5] And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? — “My
son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you
are punished by him. [6] For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chas-
tises every son whom he receives.” [7] It is for discipline that you have to endure.
God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not dis-

[11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it
yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Striving for Peace; Purity; Reverent Worship

[12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, [13] and
make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint
but rather be healed. [14] Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness with-
out which no one will see the Lord. [15] See to it that no one fail to obtain the
grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it
the many become defiled.


4-13. Following Christ’s example, Christians should struggle to avoid sin; they
should put up with tribulation and persecution because if such adversity arises
it means that the Lord permits it for our good. The letter’s tone of encourage-
ment seems to change here to one of reproach. It is as if the writer were saying,
“Christ gave his life for your sins, contending even to the point of dying for you;
how is it that you do not put up with suffering, out of love for him? It is true that
you are being persecuted: God is disciplining you as a Father disciplines his
children. But you are children of God and therefore your attitude should be one
of abandonment to his will even when it seems hard. That is the way a Father
brings up his children.”

The main point is that the only important thing is fidelity to God, and that the sin
of apostasy is the greatest of all misfortunes. “Don’t forget, my son, that for you
on earth there is but one evil, which you must fear and avoid with the grace of
God: sin” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 386).

5-11. Suffering, the sacred writer teaches, is a sign of God’s paternal love for us;
it proves that we really are his children.

This teaching is supported by the quotation from Proverbs 3: 12, taken from a
long discourse in which a father exhorts his son to acquire true wisdom. In the
present passage the father is identified with God and we with the sons whom he
is addressing.

By being incorporated into Christ through Baptism a person becomes a child of
God: this is the very basis of the Christian life and it should be a source of sere-
nity and peace in every difficulty we meet in the course of life. The term “disci-
pline” which appears so much in this passage does not convey the full richness
of the original Greek word, “paideia”, which has to do with the educational up-
bringing of child by parent, of pupil by teacher, and also the punishment meted
out in this context. Here the focus is largely on the second aspect. However, it
should be remembered that in ancient times education and instruction always
involved the idea of punishment. God, therefore, should not be seen as a cruel
or pitiless father, but as a good father who brings up his children in an affectio-
nate yet firm way. Adversity and suffering are a sign that this divine teaching me-
thod is at work: God uses them to educate us and discipline us. “You suffer in
this present life, which is a dream, a short dream. Rejoice, because your Father-
God loves you so much, and if you put no obstacles in his way, after this bad
dream he will give you a good awakening” (St J. Escriva, “The Way”, 692). If we
were illegitimate children he would not bother to educate us; but because we are
true sons he disciplines us, to make us worthy of bearing his name. “Everything
that comes to us from God,” an ancient ecclesiastical writer reminds us, “and
that we initially see as beneficial or disadvantageous, is sent to us by a father
who is full of tenderness and by the wisest of physicians, with our good in mind”
(Cassian, “Collationes”, VII, 28).

When the soul has this kind of attitude, that is, when the trials the Lords sends
are willingly accepted, “with peaceful fruit of righteousness” and it yields fruit of
holiness which fills it with peace: “Jesus prays in the garden: “Pater mi” (Mt
26:39), “Abba, Pater!” (Mk 14:36). God is my Father, even though he may send
me suffering. He loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. Jesus suffers, to
fulfill the Will of the Father.... And I, who also wish to fulfill the most holy Will of
God, following in the footsteps of the Master, can I complain if I too meet suffe-
ring as my traveling companion?

“It will be a sure sign of my sonship, because God is treating me as he treated
his own divine Son. Then I, as he did, will be able to groan and weep alone in my
Gethsemani; but, as I lie prostrate on the ground, acknowledging my nothing-
ness, there will rise up to the Lord a cry from the depths of my soul: “Pater mi,
Abba, Pater,... fiat!” (St J. Escriva, “The Way of the Cross”, I, 1).

12-13. This exhortation follows logically from the previous one. It seems to evoke
the world of athletic competition referred to at the beginning of the chapter. Verse
12 is like a shout of encouragement to a runner who is beginning to flag in the
middle of a race.

The author uses a quotation from Isaiah (Is 35:3) in which drooping hands and
weak knees indicate moral decline (cf. 2 Sam 2:7; 4:1; Jer 47:3). He then goes
on to use words from Proverbs 4:26 to encourage right living: “make straight
steps with your feet”: if the Christian perseveres in his efforts even if he is some-
what “lame”, that is, even if he is someone whose faith is weak and is in danger
of apostasy, he will be able to return to fitness in spite of everything.

However, this exhortation can be taken as addressed not only to those who need
to mend their ways but also to Christians in general, who should be exemplary
and never in any way be a stumbling-block to their weaker brethren.

14. These words echo what our Lord says in the Sermon on the Mount: “Bles-
sed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”. Jesus promises
those who promote peace that they will be sons of God and therefore share in
God’s inner life, which makes man holy. The Apostles and disciples of the Lord
often repeat this teaching (cf. Jas 3:18; Rom 12:18; 1 Pet 3:11). Being at peace
with God, which comes from docility to his plans (v. 11), necessarily leads one
to foster and maintain peace with others. Peace with God and with one’s neigh-
bor is inseparable from the search for holiness. Christ brings about the fulfillment
of the ancient promises which foretold a flowering of peace and righteousness in
the messianic times (cf. Ps 72:3; 85:1 1-12; Is 9:7; etc.).

“Holiness”: it is not just a matter of avoiding sin. one needs to cultivate virtue and
to desire to attain holiness with the help of grace. Holiness or Christian perfection
is the common goal of all Christ’s disciples. Salvation and holiness are really one
and the same thing, for only saints can obtain entry into the presence of God:
only those who are holy can see the Holy One.

“You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). These words
of our Lord are always echoing through the Church; today more than ever. “Today,
once again, I set myself this goal and I also remind you and all mankind: this is
God’s will for us, that we be saints.

“In order to bring peace, genuine peace, to souls; in order to transform the earth
and to seek God our Lord in the world and through the things of the world perso-
nal sanctity is indispensable” (St J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 294).

15. Theodoret comments on this passage as follows: “Do not be concerned
only about yourselves; rather let each of you look after the other; strengthen the
waverer and assist him who needs your helping hand” (”Interpretatio Ep. ad Hae-
breos, ad loc.”). A Christian needs to be concerned not only about his own soul,
his own salvation; on his conscience should also lie the salvation of his brothers
and sisters in the faith. He should be like a gardener who cares for his plants
and makes sure no weeds or diseases spread through his garden. In the Old Tes-
tament, the man who denies his faith is described as a root bearing poisonous
and bitter fruit (cf. Deut 29:18). Anyone who is indifferent to a brother’s infidelity
endangers those around him, for bad example can spread like an epidemic. This
passage is reminiscent of St Paul’s reproach to the Corinthians: “Do you not
know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor 5:6).

Hence the need to be ever vigilant to ensure that no one through his own fault
loses the gifts God has given him; “the true apostle is on the lookout for occa-
sions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers to draw them towards
the faith, or to the faithful to instruct them, strengthen them, incite them to a
more fervent life; ‘for Christ’s love urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14), and in the hearts of
all should the Apostle’s words find echo: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gos-
pel’ (1 Cor 9:16)” (Vatican II, “Apostolicam Actuositatem”, 6).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 02/05/2013 8:16:09 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Mark 6:1-6

No Prophet Is Honored In His Own Country

[1] He (Jesus) went away from there and came to His own country; and His dis-
ciples followed Him. [2] And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue;
and many who heard Him were astonished saying, “Where did this man get all
this? What is the wisdom given to Him? What mighty works are wrought by His
hands! [3] Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and
Joses and Judah and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?” And they
took offense at Him. [4] And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without ho-
nor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”
[5] And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands upon
a few sick people and healed them. [6] And He marvelled because of their un-


1-3. Jesus is here described by His occupation and by the fact that He is the
son of Mary. Does this indicate that St. Joseph is dead already? We do not
know, but it is likely. In any event, the description is worth underlining: in the
Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke we are told of the virginal conception of
Jesus. St. Mark’s Gospel does not deal with our Lord’s infancy, but there may
be an allusion here to His virginal conception and birth, in His being described
as “the son of Mary.”

“Joseph, caring for the Child as he had been commanded, made Jesus a crafts-
man, transmitting his own professional skill to him. So the neighbors of Naza-
reth will call Jesus both “faber” and “fabri filius”: the craftsman and the son of the
craftsman” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 55). This message of the Gos-
pel reminds us that our vocation to work is not marginal to God’s plans.

“The truth that by means of work man participates in the activity of God Himself,
his Creator, was ‘given particular prominence by Jesus Christ’ — the Jesus at
whom many of His first listeners in Nazareth ‘were astonished, saying, “Where
did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to Him?... Is not this the car-
penter?’” (Mark 6:23). For Jesus not only proclaimed but first and foremost ful-
filled by His deeds the ‘Gospel’, the word of eternal Wisdom, that had been en-
trusted to Him. Therefore this was also ‘the gospel of work’, because ‘He who
proclaimed it was Himself a man of work’, a craftsman like Joseph of Nazareth
(cf. Matthew 13:55). And if we do not find in His words a special command to
work — but rather on one occasion a prohibition against too much anxiety about
work and life — (Matthew 6:25-34)—at the same time the eloquence of the life of
Christ is unequivocal: He belongs to the ‘working world’, He has appreciation and
respect for human work. It can indeed be said the ‘He looks with love upon hu-
man work’ and the different forms that it takes, seeing in each one of these forms
a particular facet of man’s likeness with God, the Creator and Father” (Bl. John
Paul II, “Laborem Exercens”, 26).

St. Mark mentions by name a number of brothers of Jesus, and refers in general
to His sisters. But the word “brother” does not necessarily mean son of the same
parents. It can also indicate other degrees of relationship—cousins, nephews, etc.
Thus in Genesis 13:8 and 14:14 and 16 Lot is called the brother of Abraham (tran-
slated as “kinsman” in RSV), whereas we know that he was Abraham’s nephew,
the son of Abraham’s brother Haran. The same is true of Laban, who is called the
brother of Jacob (Genesis 29:15) although he was his mother’s brother (Genesis
29:15); there are other instances: cf. 1 Chronicles 23:21-22, etc. This confusion
is due to the poverty of Hebrew and Aramaic language: in the absence of distinct
terms, the same word, brother, is used to designate different degrees of relation-

From other Gospel passages we know that James and Joses, who are mentioned
here, were sons of Mary of Clophas (John 19:25). We know less about Judas and
Simon: it seems that they are the Apostles Simon the Cananaean (Matthew 10:4)
and Judas the son of James (Luke 6:16), the author of the Catholic Epistle, in
which he describes himself as “brother” of James. In any event, although James,
Simon and Judas are referred to as brothers of Jesus, it is nowhere said they
were “sons of Mary” — which would have been the natural thing if they had been
our Lord’s brothers in the strict sense. Jesus always appears as an only son: to
the people of Nazareth, He is “the son of Mary” (Matthew 13:55). When He was
dying Jesus entrusted His mother to St. John (cf. John 19:26-27), which shows
that Mary had no other children. To this is added the constant belief of the Church,
which regards Mary as the ever-virgin: “a perfect virgin before, while, and forever
after she gave birth” (Paul IV, “Cum Quorumdam”).

5-6. Jesus worked no miracles here: not because He was unable to do so, but as
punishment for the unbelief of the townspeople. God wants man to use the grace
offered him, so that, by cooperating with grace, he become disposed to receive
further graces. As St. Augustine neatly puts it, “He who made you without your
own self, will not justify you without yourself” (”Sermon” 169).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

4 posted on 02/05/2013 8:17:33 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Playing to the Base
24 posted on 02/06/2013 10:58:05 AM PST by Berlin_Freeper (If you want to ring the bell - you got to swing the hammer hard!)
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