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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 2, 14-18

Since all the children share the same human nature, he too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could set aside him who held the power of death, namely the devil,

and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

For it was not the angels that he took to himself; he took to himself the line of Abraham.

It was essential that he should in this way be made completely like his brothers so that he could become a compassionate and trustworthy high priest for their relationship to God, able to expiate the sins of the people.

For the suffering he himself passed through while being put to the test enables him to help others when they are being put to the test.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this passage, the author shows the profound difference between the priesthood of Jesus and the traditional Jewish priesthood. The difference lies in the fact that in Jesus' priesthood, the priest and the victim are the same: Jesus is both priest and victim, the one who offers and the one who is offered. Jesus is not just an exemplary priest; he is the “high priest,” the greatest of all, because “ he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.” He took care of people. He cured their diseases, healed their human frailties, and comforted their tired hearts; he is a “merciful...high priest.” He shared “flesh and blood” with humanity; he shared everything; like the poor he suffered from hunger and thirst; like those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, he too was insulted; like prisoners he was imprisoned. “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested,” writes the author of this letter. In fact, like those who are condemned to death, he received a death sentence and, meek and humble of heart, took the road to Calvary. Crucified as an innocent man, Christ made the cross the sacrificial altar on which he was both high priest and victim. On the cross he bore the sins of all men and women, and, forgiving those who killed him, forgave humanity; he offered himself in sacrifice “to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.” This is the mystery of a truly great and limitless love. When Jesus was crucified, instead of cursing, he made the cross a place of blessing for all. From this altar, Christ the high priest acts on behalf of the people, forgives, and offers humanity a different kind of law, not that of revenge, but of mercy and forgiveness. The sacrifice is consummated on the altar of the cross where Christ offers his life, places his spirit in the hands of the Father, and faces death. On the cross, the duel between the author of life, the Lord Jesus, and the supporter of death, the prince of evil, begins. Jesus, “like his brothers and sisters in every respect,” even participates in their greatest weakness, death. But with his resurrection he is raised to the glory of being the “high priest”; in fact, “through death,” he destroyed the power of “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,” and freed “those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.” Let us continue to give thanks for this mystery of love and, above all, let us never stop uniting ourselves to the one who descended to make us part of his own life.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets