Memory of the Poor

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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 7, 1-28

Melchizedek, king of Salem, a priest of God Most High, came to meet Abraham when he returned from defeating the kings, and blessed him;

and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. By the interpretation of his name, he is, first, 'king of saving justice' and also king of Salem, that is, 'king of peace';

he has no father, mother or ancestry, and his life has no beginning or ending; he is like the Son of God. He remains a priest for ever.

Now think how great this man must have been, if the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the finest plunder.

We know that any of the descendants of Levi who are admitted to the priesthood are obliged by the Law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their own brothers although they too are descended from Abraham.

But this man, who was not of the same descent, took his tithe from Abraham, and he gave his blessing to the holder of the promises.

Now it is indisputable that a blessing is given by a superior to an inferior.

Further, in the normal case it is ordinary mortal men who receive the tithes, whereas in that case it was one who is attested as being alive.

It could be said that Levi himself, who receives tithes, actually paid tithes, in the person of Abraham,

because he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek came to meet him.

Now if perfection had been reached through the levitical priesthood -- and this was the basis of the Law given to the people -- why was it necessary for a different kind of priest to arise, spoken of as being of the order of Melchizedek rather than of the order of Aaron?

Any change in the priesthood must mean a change in the Law as well.

So our Lord, of whom these things were said, belonged to a different tribe, the members of which have never done service at the altar;

everyone knows he came from Judah, a tribe which Moses did not mention at all when dealing with priests.

This becomes even more clearly evident if another priest, of the type of Melchizedek, arises who is a priest

not in virtue of a law of physical descent, but in virtue of the power of an indestructible life.

For he is attested by the prophecy: You are a priest for ever of the order of Melchizedek.

The earlier commandment is thus abolished, because of its weakness and ineffectiveness

since the Law could not make anything perfect; but now this commandment is replaced by something better-the hope that brings us close to God.

Now the former priests became priests without any oath being sworn,

but this one with the swearing of an oath by him who said to him, The Lord has sworn an oath he will never retract: you are a priest for ever;

the very fact that it occurred with the swearing of an oath makes the covenant of which Jesus is the guarantee all the greater.

Further, the former priests were many in number, because death put an end to each one of them;

but this one, because he remains for ever, has a perpetual priesthood.

It follows, then, that his power to save those who come to God through him is absolute, since he lives for ever to intercede for them.

Such is the high priest that met our need, holy, innocent and uncontaminated, set apart from sinners, and raised up above the heavens;

he has no need to offer sacrifices every day, as the high priests do, first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; this he did once and for all by offering himself.

The Law appoints high priests who are men subject to weakness; but the promise on oath, which came after the Law, appointed the Son who is made perfect for ever.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

With the seventh chapter we enter the heart of the explanation of the title of “high priest” which the author has given to Jesus. Based on the text of Genesis, the author concludes that Melchizedek, because of his priestly dignity, is superior to Abraham so much that the latter had to pay tithes to the priest. Melchizedek is therefore seen as an anticipation of Jesus, in whose line stands his priesthood. The author wants to underline that the Jesus’ priesthood of Jesus is not only prior to the levitical, but is also superior to it, because Jesus leads men and women to perfection, to eternal salvation, in the heavenly sanctuary before the very presence of God. It is the “perfect” priesthood, which we needed. Christ is “holy, blameless, undefiled, separate from sinners, exalted above the heavens”: neither the Mosaic Law nor the levitical descent have the power to lead men and women to that “perfection.” Thus, today, we no longer need to multiply priests and mediators to reach up to God: the new “priest,” Jesus Christ, leads us before God directly. The old covenant has been replaced by one new and “better,” that established by Jesus. And neither is there any need to multiply sacrifices, as it was with the levitical priesthood. Jesus offered his sacrifice once and for all: “Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.” It is a substantial priesthood, not ritual, because Jesus has become priest through his personal sacrifice: he offered himself as victim and was taken up to heaven, becoming at the same time altar, victim and priest, as the Liturgy of the Church sings. We Christians, uniting ourselves to the “sacrifice” of Christ, that is becoming likewise altars, victims and priests, enter directly into relation with God. It is the holy and priestly people, of which the New Testament speaks that offer to God a spiritual worship pleasing to Him.