Word of the day
Reading of the day
A Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
HEB 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.
Gospel of the day
From the Gospel according to Mark
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.
Words of the Holy Father
The heart, when it hardens, is not free and if it isn’t free it’s because it does not love. This concept is expressed in the day’s First Reading. Perfect love casts out fear. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. He isn’t free. He always fears that something painful or sad might happen, which could cause us to go the wrong way in life or to risk eternal salvation. Instead, this is only imagined, simply because that heart doesn’t love. The disciples’ hearts, they were hardened because they still hadn’t learned how to love. It is a closing off which can turn round many things: such as pride, sufficiency, thinking that I’m better than others, or even vanity. There are ‘mirror’ men and women, who are closed within themselves to watch themselves, constantly; they could be defined as “religious narcissists”. They have hard hearts because they are closed, they aren’t open. And they try to protect themselves with these walls they build around themselves. You can take a thousand courses in catechesis, a thousand courses in spirituality, a thousand courses in yoga, Zen and all these things. But all of this will never be able to give you the freedom of the Son. Only the Holy Spirit moves your heart to say ‘Father’”; He alone is capable of casting out, of breaking this hardness of the heart and of making it docile to the Lord. Docile to the freedom of love. (Santa Marta, 9 January 2015)