Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memory of St. Ireneus, bishop of Lyon and martyr (130-202); he went to France from Anatolia to preach the Gospel.

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 13, 18-24

Pray for us; we are sure that our own conscience is clear and we are certainly determined to behave honourably in everything we do.

I ask you very particularly to pray that I may come back to you all the sooner.

I pray that the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed an eternal covenant,

may prepare you to do his will in every kind of good action; effecting in us all whatever is acceptable to himself through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I urge you, brothers, to take these words of encouragement kindly; that is why I have written to you briefly.

I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free. If he arrives in time, he will be with me when I see you.

Greetings to all your leaders and to all God's holy people. God's holy people in Italy send you greetings.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In these concluding verses of the Letter, the author comes out, at least a little, from his anonymity, even if the indications given are not sufficient to illuminate the reasons and the circumstances which gave rise to this writing. It is unique, however, that the first request is prayer: “Pray for us.” Perhaps he is in a difficult situation – maybe he is opposed in his faith – or he feels his responsibility for the community and is asking for help, first of all through prayer. Moreover he desires to see shortly the recipients of the Letter; hence they ought to help him with their prayers. In any case, it appears clear that communion in prayer is the cornerstone of the life of Christian communities. Several times in the writings of the New Testament the exhortation to pray for each other appears. The author of the Letter, after this request, expresses his broad wish which constitutes in a certain manner the concluding theological point of the Letter. He formulates a solemn prayer of blessing for the community, and once again he recalls the work of salvation accomplished by God in destroying death. He reminds his listeners that the “God of peace” has “brought back” (see Is 63:11-13) from the realm of death “the great shepherd of the sheep,” summing up the priestly office of Christ, “promoter” and “precursor.” For the first and only time in the whole Letter he speaks of “the resurrection of Jesus.” And the blessing that follows has a typically Pauline imprint: may God fulfil in us what is good and acceptable to Him. We, therefore, are able to do the will of God (l0:7, 9, 36) only if he “prepares” us for it. In his last exhortation the author prays for the readers so that they may “bear with my word of exhortation,” as if apologizing for having only “briefly” written difficult thoughts. He asks that they use “patience” and make a serious effort to receive and welcome the message that he has wished to send to them. In truth, it is so for every page of Scripture: each is to be welcomed, meditated upon, and kept in heart, as the mother of Jesus who “kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). It is the meaning of what Gregory the Great says apropos this: “Sacred Scripture grows with those who read it.”