Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
January 18, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the writer of Hebrews continues to shine light on the superior “priesthood” of Jesus Christ – that aspect of Christ’s ministry that breaks heaven open for us and reinstates us as God’s children.
Hebrews calls Christ a priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” – an order above and beyond the priesthood of Aaron and Levi.
Although there are a few references to Melchizedek in scripture, only one narrative refers to him:
After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him,Genesis 14: 17-20
the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.
He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Melchizedek, whose priesthood preceded even Abraham, is offered in Hebrews as a prototype of Jesus who fulfills and perfects the Old Testament promises.
Does this matter to us modern day Christians who can barely say “Melchizedek “, let alone spell it? And if it does matter, how?
An answer may be revealed in our Gospel today.
In it, Jesus challenges the old, pharisaical, law-bound way of thinking. As the new and perfect “priest”, Jesus breaks that way of thinking with the transformation of love. Jesus is the perfection of that which Melchizedek was only the forerunner.
Then he said to the Pharisees,Mark 3:3-6
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.
- This man with the withered hand is more important than the law.
- This act of healing and wholeness is more important than ritual adherence.
- The priesthood of Jesus is the breakthrough revelation of what God really desires – mercy, not sacrifice.
Poetry: Excerpt from John Berryman’s Eleven Addresses to the Lord
John Berryman (1914 – 1972) was an American poet and scholar. He was a major figure in American poetry in the second half of the 20th century and is considered a key figure in the “confessional” school of poetry. Eleven Addresses to the Lord describes, with an interplay of sincerity and irony, the poet’s struggle to believe. Section 10 below reveals love over law as a key factor in Berryman’s evolving faith.
Fearful I peer upon the mountain path
where once Your shadow passed, Limner of the clouds
up their phantastic guesses. I am afraid,
I never until now confessed.
I fell back in love with you, Father, for two reasons:
You were good to me, & a delicious author,
rational & passionate. Come on me again,
as twice you came to Azarias & Misael.
President of the brethren, our mild assemblies
inspire, & bother the priest not to be dull;
keep us week-long in order; love my children,
my mother far & ill, far brother, my spouse.
Oil all my turbulence as at Thy dictation
I sweat out my wayward works.
Father Hopkins said the only true literary critic is Christ.
Let me lie down exhausted, content with that.
Music: Love Broke Thru ~ Toby Mac