The Letter to the Hebrews is a bit of a mystery. We don’t know who wrote it, or exactly when it was written. Serious scripture scholars agree that St. Paul probably didn’t write it, because its style and vocabulary are so different from his other writings. We are also not completely sure about its audience, but Hebrews appears to be directed towards a group of Jewish Christians who lived during a period of great upheaval, perhaps after the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. But despite the mystery and all the unanswered questions, one thing is certain: the Letter to the Hebrews is a message of encouragement asking us to stay focused on Jesus.
The author was concerned that his audience had become discouraged in their faith, whether because of the everyday challenges of following Christ, or the unique challenges of living in a time of great change. The author clearly wants to reenergise these people, and he composed the Letter in order to lift their gaze to heaven and to deepen their understanding of the new covenant that was theirs in Christ. For him, it was all about Jesus.
Throughout his Letter, as he urges his readers to persevere in their faith, the author keeps shining a light on Jesus. He tells us that Jesus is crowned with glory and honour (2:9). He calls him our High Priest who ushers us into the presence of God (4:14). He tells us that Our Lord’s blood can cleanse our consciences from crippling guilt (10:22). He shows how Jesus became like us, and calls us his brothers and sisters (2:11-12). He points to Christ as the eternal, uncreated Son of God, through whom all things were made (1:2). In verse after verse, he shows us that if we follow Jesus, we will find all the grace we need to run the race to its glorious conclusion.
And so as we reflect upon what the Letter to the Hebrews has to say to us this week, let us ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Our Lord to us. Let us ask Him to show us how Jesus has atoned for our sins and how he is Lord of all creation, and of our lives; so that we too may run the race to the finish.