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The Everyday Prayer

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

Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Africa.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 8, 6-13

As it is, he has been given a ministry as far superior as is the covenant of which he is the mediator, which is founded on better promises.

If that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no room for a second one to replace it.

And in fact God does find fault with them; he says: Look, the days are coming, the Lord declares, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah,

but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors, the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, which covenant of mine they broke, and I too abandoned them, the Lord declares.

No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel, when those days have come, the Lord declares: In their minds I shall plant my laws writing them on their hearts. Then I shall be their God, and they shall be my people.

There will be no further need for each to teach his neighbour, and each his brother, saying 'Learn to know the Lord!' No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest,

since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sins to mind.

By speaking of a new covenant, he implies that the first one is old. And anything old and ageing is ready to disappear.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord Jesus has become the mediator of a new covenant of which we are a part, and which was spoken of at length in the First Testament: God offered the patriarchs and his people, Israel, a pact of friendship that made them unique among the nations, as is written in the book of Exodus: “Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples...You shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (19:5-6). This promise to Israel and the Jewish people is not annulled or revoked, but definitively renewed in Jesus through whom the covenant is expanded to include all people. Everyone can now be part of this particular relationship between God and humanity. No one is excluded anymore from friendship with God. Speaking to the Jews, John Paul II spoke of “a covenant that has never been revoked,” using language similar to that of Saint Paul. Yes, perhaps in a way that we find mysterious, a particular relationship remains between God and Israel, which was not abolished by the covenant but established by Jesus with all of humanity. This is how we should understand the reference to the new covenant that is fulfilled in Jesus' death and resurrection. This happens every time the Eucharist is celebrated. The priest pronounces Jesus' own words: “This is the chalice of the new and everlasting covenant.” What is written in the Letter to the Hebrews is true, but it must be read in the context of the entire Bible and the Magisterium of the Church. After the Second Vatican Council, as well as with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Jewish-Christian relationship has been understood in a new way. It does not diminish the strength and newness of the salvation achieved by the death and resurrection of the Lord, but understands it within the context of the entire story of salvation. The conclusion of the Letter stresses this by saying that the covenant “will soon disappear,” not that it has disappeared. For the first Christian communities, this “soon” had a very concrete sense of the impending second and definitive return of Christ. But in truth this waiting refers to the final fulfilment, of which no one knows the time or the hour. Therefore let us welcome the newness of Jesus Christ as a demand for renewal and conversion, not as something exclusive to which we belong.

Memory of Jesus crucified