Every once in a while I find that the scriptures read at Mass sounds "new" to me, as if I have never heard that particular passage before. I am sure that after all of these years that I have read or heard it proclaimed, but it seems to strike me anew or finally register. This morning we had a passage from Hebrews (Hebrews 11: 32-40) that resonated with me in one of those surprising ways.
The author of Hebrews speaks of the great champions of faith found in the Hebrew Scriptures - Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David and Samuel - of their courage and conquests, of their sufferings and their righteous deeds, of the witness to the Lord God and the marvelous deeds that this witness brought about.
They were approved because of their faith, and their heroics and example serve as an inspiration.
And yet ... great as they were, "God has foreseen something better for us". He has sent his Son, Jesus, to be one with us, sharing our human nature in all things but sin, uniting us with the divine, calling us to holiness, raising us to a dignity beyond our imagining. The great accomplishments of these men and women of the past and their inspiring stories find fulfillment and meaning in that meeting of the divine and the human, in the God-man Jesus. It was for us, in our sinfulness, that grace appeared. That is overwhelming to contemplate.
It brings to mind another truth ... that in creation God fashioned the angelic host, heavenly beings that are a reflection of the divine. And even though some of those heavenly creatures "turned away" from the Light, as we did through Adam and Eve, it was to us, not to the angels, that God chose to be united. It was for us that he sent his Son. It was to us that redemption was offered.