Thursday 27 January 2011

Bible Book:

"And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds" (v. 24)

Hebrews 10:19-25 Thursday 27 January 2011


The book of Hebrews provides a useful outline of the religiouspractices performed by the Hebrew people. The writer tends to focuson issues of sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, and reveals howthis contrasts with Jesus' one time sacrifice. Today's passagereturns to this theme, and includes several references to the powerof Jesus' "blood" (verse 19) to forgive wrongdoing.

Another important Hebrew sacrificial ritual that is not directlyreferenced is the Burnt Offering. It is very poignant and powerfulthat the stem of the word for Holocaust (olah) in Hebrew means"burnt offering". (Many Jewish people find this associationproblematic and prefer the term 'Sho'ah', which denotes acatastrophe or disaster.)

Holocaust Memorial Day, which is marked today, is an appositemoment to remember the millions of Jewish people who were murderedalongside other minorities during the Second World War. There islittle doubt that this remains one of the most tragic episodes inhistory, and characterises the most rotten aspects of the humancondition. Holocaust Memorial Day is also an apt occasion for allmen and women to remember that acts of genocide and racial hatredare tragically not confined to the distant past. The terribleevents that took place in Kosovo and Rwanda in the 1990s are clearexamples of the human capacity to slide into similar forms ofbarbarity. As a result, Holocaust Memorial Day is a vitalopportunity for everyone to draw on the lessons of the past to makea collective commitment to ensure these tragic events never happenagain.

However, it is important to remember that even in the midst of suchtragedy, there are stories of hope that inspire. Some of the mostpowerful of these are accounts of individual bravery and heroismwhich involved personal sacrifice. Although these accounts cannotredeem what has taken place, they do reveal rays of hope in themidst of catastrophe. 

To Ponder

How can we commit ourselves to ensuring thatevents such as the Holocaust never happen again?

Is it possible to maintain one's faith andintegrity in the face of such barbarity? In what way(s)?

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