( Heb. 1:10-2:3)
At the beginning of his Epistle to the Hebrews, which we heard today, St. Paul urges us to reap the fruit of salvation that Christ offers to us.
In order to help us understand the great value of this salvation, Apostle Paul makes a comparison between the salvation of the Jews, who were saved, as a nation, from the Egyptians and from all other enemies who were obstructing their march to “the promised land” (Heb. 11:9), with the eternal salvation which Christ the Savior is offering to us.
After forty years of torments, the Jews freed themselves from their enemies and reached the land that God had promised them. However, even after that liberation, hostile nations kept subjugating them until, in the year 70 A.D., the city of Jerusalem fell in the hands of the Romans and Titus, destroyed it completely. People were scattered in various countries and their own homeland was lost for them for two thousand years.
However, the salvation, which Christ offers to us, is both a spiritual and an eternal one. The new “promised land”, that is, the heavenly Kingdom that God had promised He would grand to those who would believe in the Gospel and live in accordance with the Gospel, this Kingdom will have no end, as we proclaim in the Creed (the Symbol of Faith): “ …His Kingdom will have no end.” Even after the end of the material creation, the heavenly Kingdom will continue to exist eternally.
No assault by any enemy whatsoever will be able to affect this Kingdom. The devil, who had once entered paradise and had led Adam and Eve astray to sin, will have already been obliterated and fallen “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his own” (Mat. 25:41). The eternal Kingdom, that God has prepared for the faithful consists of light, peace and joy; it is “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels” (Heb. 12:22-23), a feast that never ends!
It is for this heavenly, blissful Kingdom that Christ invites us to strive for in order to enter, so that we may enjoy our eternal salvation. It is for this reason also that the Apostle, who devoted his entire life in helping people become worthy of this salvation, is anxious about the fact that, perhaps, some people might be deprived of salvation out of negligence and indifference. Thus, he brings forward the following argument: if the Jews, who received the Law through Angels and they violated it, thus receiving the punishment they deserved, “how shall we escape [punishment] if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him…?” (Heb. 2:2-3). The Lord is superior to Angels; therefore, the message He brought to us with His Gospel is incomparably superior to the Law, which Moses received through Angels. Thus, he who violates the Gospel deserves condemnation even harsher than that of those who violated Moses’ Law.
The theme on the salvation of the faithful, to which Apostle Paul makes reference in his Epistle repeadedly and which he wants to convey, is of pivotal importance. . He writes to the Philippians, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling …; holding fast the word of the gospel that gives life” (Phil. 2:12 and 16).
My beloved Brothers and Sisters, the enlightened Apostle is well aware of the possibility that man can easily be led astray by one’s own evil environment, or be absorbed by the problems of everyday day life and lose his spiritual orientation. For this reason, he is urging all of us to “give the most earnest heed to the things of truth we have heard, so that we may never drift away” (Heb. 2:1). If the captain loses control of the course of his ship and the ship is blown by the winds or swept away by the sea waves, the ship is in danger of becoming a wreck in reefs and on rocky islands. That is why we must keep a sturdy hand on the rudder of the ship of our soul and direct it, firmly and carefully, to its final destination, which is the harbor of God’s Kingdom. It is there that we shall be enjoying eternal delight, together with all those who have pleased God. Amen.