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God’s Promises

 Memorial of Saint Anthony, Abbot

First Reading: Hebrews 6:10-20

Brothers and sisters:
God is not unjust so as to overlook your work
and the love you have demonstrated for his name
by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.
We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness
for the fulfillment of hope until the end,
so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who,
through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.

When God made the promise to Abraham,
since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
and said, I will indeed bless you and multiply you.
And so, after patient waiting, Abraham obtained the promise.
Now, men swear by someone greater than themselves;
for them an oath serves as a guarantee
and puts an end to all argument.
So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise
an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose,
he intervened with an oath,
so that by two immutable things,
in which it was impossible for God to lie,
we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged
to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul,
sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil,
where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner,
becoming high priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111:1-2, 4-5, 9 AND 10C

R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has sent deliverance to his people;
he has ratified his covenant forever;
holy and awesome is his name.
His praise endures forever.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Gospel: Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

NAB

Newspaper headlines tell us the future looks grim: Division in our country and our world are apparent. Sin freely abounds. Lord, have mercy on us all! Being a Christian, let alone a faithful Catholic, is far from celebrated in the eyes of our modern society. It can be difficult to be a witness to our faith, and it is then that our weary hearts so desperately need to hear—really hear—the words in today’s First Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.

“God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.” God doesn’t miss anything you do, sisters. When it feels like your Christian works are falling on cold, frozen ground instead of rich, fertile soil, take heart. God sees you.

We are reminded of God’s promise to Abraham, and how “after patient waiting”—about twenty-five years worth—God fulfilled His promise. Praise God! But that patient waiting part can be so hard, can’t it? How easy it is to grow weary after a few hours, days, or weeks of waiting in prayer, let alone twenty-five years! What a witness, what an encouragement this should be for us. God is faithful, sisters. He will never break His promise to us.

And then, my favorite line: “We who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm.” Some days I wear a small gold anchor on a chain around my neck for this very reason: to remind myself that my hope is in Him. That hope, ever-present before us is eternal life with Him. Take a moment, dear sisters. Let this truth wash over your anxieties and cares. Let this promise of hope settle into your heart, that your soul might rest steadfastly believing it.

As it turns out, the headlines deceive us. Our future isn’t grim at all. With Him, our future is brighter than we can even imagine.

“The Lord will remember his covenant forever,” we hear in today’s Psalm. Let us join our voices with the Psalmist and cry, “Holy and awesome is His name. His praise endures forever.” Amen.

photo credit

Elise Howe is a devoted wife, momma, and musician currently living in NYC, though she will always be a midwestern gal at heart. You can find out more about her here.

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