Sunday Vigil

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Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Europe and in the Americas.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 9, 2-3.11-14

There was a tent which comprised two compartments: the first, in which the lamp-stand, the table and the loaves of permanent offering were kept, was called the Holy Place;

then beyond the second veil, a second compartment which was called the Holy of Holies

But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human hands, that is, not of this created order;

and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement, may restore their bodily purity.

How much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself, blameless as he was, to God through the eternal Spirit, purify our conscience from dead actions so that we can worship the living God.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Letter to the Hebrews continues to reflect on the new meaning of Jesus' high priesthood as compared with the ancient one. In the first few verses the sacred author describes, albeit briefly, the tabernacle of the covenant that Moses had made according to the instructions he had received on the mountain (8:5). What had been done in the first covenant prefigured what God would accomplish fully with Jesus. Indeed, the tabernacle of God's presence already tells us something about the new and future covenant that will be made in the new “temple,” Jesus. And it is Jesus himself who affirms that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it. The tent of the old covenant was divided into two parts: the “Holy Place,” and the “Holy of Holies,” hidden behind a curtain. The distinction between these two places is accentuated in the Letter: in the “Holy Place” are found simple things appropriate for everyday use, such as the lamp-stand, the table, and the bread of the presence, whereas in the “Holy of Holies” are kept more precious objects, shining with gold. In the first chamber the author sees the image of the earth; in the Holy of Holies he sees heaven. There was even a distinction for the ministers: all the priests could enter the first chamber, whereas only the high priest could enter the second, and only once a year, after offering a blood-sprinkled offering on the mercy-seat. This ritual shows that “the way into the sanctuary” of heaven “has not yet been disclosed.” Only with Jesus were the priesthood and the law completely changed (7:12). So far, the author has affirmed that Jesus, established as high priest, has entered heaven (4:14) and offered himself once and for all (7:27); therefore he has taken his place at the right hand of the throne of majesty (8:1) and has become the minister of the true tabernacle built by God and not by human beings (8:2). And he is carrying “real” gifts (see 10:1) to fulfil the promises of the new pact (8:6), the forgiveness of sins and definitive union with God. He can acquire these benefits because he exercises his priestly ministry not in the narrow confines of the earthly tabernacle, but in “the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation).” And, like the High Priest, he could not enter the Holy of Holies “without taking...blood” (9.7). Indeed, he did enter with blood, but not in the old way, with the blood of animals. Jesus entered the sanctuary with his own blood. Welcomed into this mystery of salvation, the disciples already enter in the Holy of Holies with him, purified from “dead works to worship the living God.”