February 3, 2011 - Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Yesterday we saw the completion and fulfillment of the Old Testament. Today we see the new covenant in all its glory.

In the beautiful passage from Hebrews, perhaps one of the most beautiful and poetic in the whole Bible, we are reminded of the blessed times we live in. We might look back (the early Christian Jews certainly did) on the time of Moses as an ideal time: to be alive and see the glory of God revealed so clearly, with fire and darkness and storms, with words that frightened the hearers! We, however, live in an even more blessed time. We are able to come each day and celebrate the Mass; the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross becomes present to us; we receive his Body and Blood.

The earth has been around for 5 billion years. Human civilization has existed for hundreds of thousands of years. But it is in our times, the end times, that Jesus Christ has been revealed. Even though the end times have been 2000 years so far, even if they last 10,000 more before Jesus comes again, they are the end times. The final revelation has been given to us. If we could consider how people lived 5,000 years ago, we might be surprised how similar their daily life was to ours in some ways, and then we might consider the greatest difference: they did not know that God has a Son; they did not know God’s mercy. This difference is greater than all the spaceships and all the computers that will ever exist. They were born; they lived; they died. We were born; we live; we will die. But death has been defeated.

Our Gospel shows the stark difference between Jesus and everything before him. The mission of the Apostles is something new under the sun. Nothing like it has ever been seen before. There have been prophets before, workers of wonders, but which prophet ever sent forth twelve disciples with authority to cure and drive out unclean spirits? Jesus sends them out on a mission to change Israel forever, and soon he will send them out to the world to announce the Good News. It had seemed that sin would always rule over the lives of humans, but now there is repentance. It had seemed that death would forever have the last word on human life, but now there is hope. These are exciting times we are living in.