Prayer for peace

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Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Orthodox Churches.

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 5, 1-10

Every high priest is taken from among human beings and is appointed to act on their behalf in relationships with God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins;

he can sympathise with those who are ignorant or who have gone astray, because he too is subject to the limitations of weakness.

That is why he has to make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people.

No one takes this honour on himself; it needs a call from God, as in Aaron's case.

And so it was not Christ who gave himself the glory of becoming high priest, but the one who said to him: You are my Son, today I have fathered you,

and in another text: You are a priest for ever, of the order of Melchizedek.

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, with loud cries and with tears, to the one who had the power to save him from death, and, winning a hearing by his reverence,

he learnt obedience, Son though he was, through his sufferings;

when he had been perfected, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation

and was acclaimed by God with the title of high priest of the order of Melchizedek.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage from the letter to the Hebrews helps us to continue reflecting on Jesus, the “High Priest.” According to the temple tradition, the high priest was the one who could enter the Holy of Holies, the innermost part of the Temple in Jerusalem, just once a year on the day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the day on which God forgave the sins of his people. Jesus is presented in this Letter as the new High Priest. Because of the suffering he endured and his obedience to God, he became the source of salvation for all. There is no more need to offer sacrifices of atonement for the forgiveness of sine in the temple in Jerusalem: Jesus himself, through the suffering he endured, is the one who obtains forgiveness and salvation. The author interprets the earthly life of Jesus as a priestly offering of “prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Jesus, the Son of God, is declared priest according to the order of Melchizedek, the priest spoken of in the book of Genesis, chapter 14, in Psalm 110, and in this Letter. Melchizedek, king of Salem (Jerusalem), went to meet Abraham, offering him bread and wine and speaking this blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth.” He was not a priest of the God of Israel, but he recognized in Abraham the presence of the God Most High. The author of the Letter seems to be telling us that with Jesus a new time in history is beginning in which all the people who submit to him, the priest and mediator of the new covenant, will take part. Through Jesus, everyone one of us, no matter which people we belong to, can take part in the sacrifice of salvation that Jesus offered on the cross. Indeed each of us, through our own witness, can help others, even those who are far from God, recognize God the Most High, the Father of Jesus. We cannot forget that even Jesus was called to obedience: he did not do his own will, but the will of God the Father. If this was true for Jesus, much truer should it be for us? We too - who so often only obey ourselves and our traditions - are called to obey the Father. If we do, we will receive the blessing God offers us to no longer belong to ourselves, but to his covenant, and to become a great people that proclaim peace.