Scripture: Lectionary # 313. Jan. 23. Hebrews 7:1-3.15-17. Psalm 110. Mark 3:1-6

Jesus continues to be compared and contrasted with Melchizedek, the priest of unknown origins who anoints Abraham. Jesus does have human origins through the royal lineage of Judah and David and through his mother Mary, a virgin-mother. A genealogy is given for Jesus both in Matthew and Luke and a clear Davidic reference to him in the opening lines of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The eternal nature of Jesus as the Word of God also shows us that he is greater than Melchizedek; it
has already been declared by our author that he is far superior to the angels. Jesus is totally one with God and goes beyond his physical descent from Mary.

Our Psalm, one of the most frequently cited in the New Testament, is a Messianic Royal Psalm. The response is perfect for what the Ep. To the Hebrews is saying about Jesus in comparison with Melchizedek: “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.” Father Bruce Vawter in his comprehensive book on Genesis entitled Genesis: A New Reading writes, “By this story Abraham, and in Abraham the seed of Israel, is brought into intimate contact with that which was destined to be the holy city of David, and accordingly Abraham receives the blessing of the Jerusalemite priesthood.” (cf. pages 193-201). The biblical references to Melchizedek are only found in Genesis 14:18-24 and in Psalm 110: 4. Vawter states, “Melchizedek was held up as a prototype of the priest-king ideal that was thought to be realized in the divinely established Davidic dynasty.” (p.198). We are led to see why the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews would spend considerable time on this comparison of Jesus with the priest called Melchizedek.

The canonical work of our author is more restrained than what we read in the apocryphal writing of II Enoch which speaks of Melchizedek’s ascension.

Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand on the Sabbath and this leads to Mark describing the plot to get rid of him by some Pharisees and Herodians. Thus even this early in Mark’s gospel we see the shadow of the Cross. Jesus is already undergoing five controversies with his adversaries. This is the last for the moment. Healings were permitted on the Sabbath if there were danger of someone dying; this is not the case. But Jesus is showing that good done for someone who is suffering goes beyond the traditional way of interpreting what is to be done.

Prayer: “Lord Jesus, you are both priest and king. You help us as we struggle with our human weaknesses of sickness and sin. We are amazed at your compassion for us when we are down and out. We need only to turn to you and realize that you are with us especially in times of
loss, suffering, and need for repentance. Be with us now and help us through this day. Amen.”

Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.