Inheriting the Promises

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.

Heb 6: 10-12

This passage from Tuesday’s first reading somehow gets me thinking about the Communion of Saints – all those great and holy men and women who have gone before us. To paraphrase Archbishop Oscar Romero: they planted seeds that one day would grow, while we water the seeds they planted. And sometimes, we might even reap the harvest of seeds planted and watered before our time.

Such thoughts are hard to avoid just now as we celebrate the back-to-back occasions of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday and President Barack Obama’s inauguration. And I was pleased to hear the President’s address echo some of the sentiments of the day’s reading:

Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted, for those who prefer leisure over work or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.


What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

It was a stirring and important reminder that the best – maybe the only – way to honor those great souls who have gone before us is to take up the work they had begun, and to carry it on in our own lives.

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