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Quest for Holiness

First Reading: Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High,
met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings
and blessed him.
And Abraham apportioned to him a tenth of everything.
His name first means righteous king,
and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace.
Without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or end of life,
thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

It is even more obvious if another priest is raised up
after the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become so,
not by a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent
but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
For it is testified:

You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (4b) You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand
till I make your enemies your footstool.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The scepter of your power the LORD will stretch forth from Zion:
“Rule in the midst of your enemies.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
“Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.
The LORD has sworn, and he will not repent:
“You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
R. You are a priest for ever, in the line of Melchizedek.

Gospel: Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“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.

NAB

He knew there was no chance.

Even when he saw Jesus come into the synagogue, he knew.

You have to matter for someone like Jesus to notice you. Even if Jesus somehow saw him, he wouldn’t see the hand. After years of practice, it was natural to keep it hidden by his side—it was barely noticeable to a casual passerby.

When Jesus called to him and asked him to come before the Pharisees, his heart beat wildly in his throat. Still, there was no chance of healing. It was against the rules.

The rules are there for a reason, of course. They’re important. They keep things holy, separating the profane from the sacred, drawing a line around what is precious to ensure it stays clean. We need those rules. They’re our best human attempt to make our lives as godly as possible—and we need all the help we can get.

In our quest for holiness, we can only improve ourselves so much. We can wash our withered hands and keep them carefully concealed in public. In the end, though, rules cannot save us. The only thing that can restore us is an actual encounter with Jesus.

When Jesus tells you to stretch out your hand, the hand you don’t want Him to see, the one you hide from everyone, you do what He says. As the man stretched out his hand, slowly, shakily, his fingers trembled along with his spirit.

Suddenly, his hand was whole.

It wasn’t the rules. It was his encounter with Jesus, who blew the rules wide open to pour out healing on one in need.

Sometimes, we berate ourselves for not being good enough or holy enough or smart enough to deserve Jesus’ time. We think if we can just do better at praying, reading Scripture, or being a good person, we’ll be more worthy of His attention. Then we can ask for what we need.

We couldn’t be more wrong. Following the rules perfectly will never make us worthy of Jesus’ love. He already loves us more than we could ever merit. Jesus can look tenderly on the most withered parts of our lives and restore us . . . if only we are willing to show them to Him.

Is there an area in your life that you’ve been reluctant to share with Jesus? Pray about showing Him that part of you and allowing Him to restore it.

Abbey Dupuy writes her life as a homeschooling mama of four while relying on coffee and grace. You can find out more about her here.

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