Saturday of the first week in ordinary time

Hebrews 4:12-16; Psalm 18:8-10,15 (LXX); Mark 2:13-17

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Heb 4.12-16)

Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mk 2.16-17)

. . .

Three observations and a question. First, I had never before noticed the personal pronoun used of the word of the Lord in Hebrews 4. I am used to hearing v 12 applied to the Bible, rather than the Word of God; the full passage indicates clearly that the active, living, penetrating and discerning Word is none other than the second person of the Trinity. Second, the Word is identified with the One who became flesh and dwelt among us, sharing our nature, ‘sin apart’ (Gregory Nazianzen). The precision with which the Word penetrates does not have pain or punishment as its object, but mercy. The Word is living and active; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; the Word ‘is able to sympathize with our weakness’ and we can depend on obtaining ‘mercy and grace’ in from him in our time of need. Third, in case there was any doubt, the affirmation of Jesus himself shows again the purpose for which the Word is sent: to offer healing to those who are sick. The Word became flesh to call sin-sick souls not to the judgement seat, but to the throne of grace.

I wonder, though, what the relationship is between the word of God in Hebrews 4 and the decrees of God in Psalm 18: what can God decree apart from God’s Word? Law, decree, ordinance, precept, command, and the fear of the Lord are not terms that naturally suggest mercy, yet that is precisely what the Word is. The law of the Lord is fulfilled in the incarnation of the Word; Love comes in human form to heal and to save.

…so shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth;

it shall not return to me empty,
but shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace… (Isaiah 55.11-12)

That is good news, indeed.

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