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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 10, 19-25

We have then, brothers, complete confidence through the blood of Jesus in entering the sanctuary,

by a new way which he has opened for us, a living opening through the curtain, that is to say, his flesh.

And we have the high priest over all the sanctuary of God.

So as we go in, let us be sincere in heart and filled with faith, our hearts sprinkled and free from any trace of bad conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us keep firm in the hope we profess, because the one who made the promise is trustworthy.

Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.

Do not absent yourself from your own assemblies, as some do, but encourage each other; the more so as you see the Day drawing near.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Having finished his doctrinal analysis of Jesus as high priest, the author explains to believers what this should mean for them. When we are united with the “flesh” of Christ, with His body, we are welcomed into the sanctuary, which he has already entered. It is easy to imagine that the author is referring to the Eucharist as the most direct path into the sanctuary, that is, the most direct path to a personal and direct encounter with the Lord. Communion with the Body of Christ is indeed direct communion with God and with all of our brothers and sisters. The author uses the term “parrhesia” (“confidence” in our text) which in the context of ancient Greece indicates the “freedom to say everything,” that is, the right to be citizens of the city. Receiving the right to “parrhesia” means being free to speak to God without an intermediary, that is, being able to speak to Him with the absolute trust of children. This is the “way” that Jesus opened for us and that the Letter urges us to follow without fear: “let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Living in the community, participating in the Holy Liturgy and receiving communion with our brothers and sisters, loving the poorest, and committing ourselves to making everyone's life more serene all mean following the path that Jesus opened for us. This is why the Letter urges believers to “provoke one another to love” and to be generous in “good deeds.” And those who abandon the meetings of the community are warned that by doing so they are distancing themselves from the sanctuary, that is, from God himself. The danger of apostasy, that is, of abandoning faith, is not so much a theoretical question as it is a problem of the heart, indeed, a question of entrusting our lives to the Lord. And we should understand that this abandonment does not just happen suddenly: it starts with neglecting the community's meetings and remaining silent, and slowly slips into the breakdown of communion. In fact, in our meetings we “provoke one another” and reinforce our faith as well as our fraternity. We must recognize that, our habits, when left to themselves, lead us to put more emphasis on our personal commitments than on those of the Christian community in which we live. In listening to the Word of God together, in praying, and celebrating the Eucharist, we can all encounter the grace and forgiveness that come from the Lord Jesus, who gave his life for us, and also rediscover the fraternity and communion that often get lost in our daily lives.

Memory of the Church