Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 7, 1-3.15-17

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.

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.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In today's passage, the author emphasizes the connection between the priesthood of Jesus and that of Melchizedek, rather than the Levitical priesthood renewed by Aaron and his descendants. In the rest of the chapter, verses 4-14, he explains Jesus' relationship with Melchizedek, not Aaron. We are before a crucial question, which affected both the Christian community of Jewish origin and the people of Israel. The temple in Jerusalem had by this time been destroyed by the Romans, and with the temple had perished all of the worship practices associated with it: the various kinds of sacrifices and offerings prescribed by the law and enumerated in part in the book of Leviticus. What then was the point of the Levitical priesthood? What value can the sacrifices tied to the temple retain when they can no longer be offered? The letter to the Hebrews addresses these questions by directly connecting the unique and unrepeatable sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, in which he himself - as we have seen before - becomes victim and priest not to the descendants of Aaron and the sacrifices of the temple in Jerusalem but to Melchizedek. Thus, God's intervention in history becomes a new beginning that refers back to the promises made by God to Abraham, even before Aaron. But who is Melchizedek? He is the '“king of righteousness” (In Hebrew zedek means “justice”) and also “king of Salem” (Jerusalem), that is, king of peace. He is presented as someone from beyond the history of Israel, a forerunner of God's promises and of the priesthood of Christ. This is why Jesus is “another priest” (v. 15), different from the priests of Israel who were recreated with Aaron. The priesthood of Jesus is indestructible because it is not created through human offspring. In Psalm 110, the psalmist sings: “You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus is a priest of humanity, a universal priest, who came for all. Therefore we are all part of this priesthood; with baptism, every Christian becomes “priest, king, and prophet. Together we are a people of priests, kings, and prophets, through the unique sacrifice of Christ, who has allowed us to participate in his own divine life. Let us remain a part of this people, so that we too can be bearers of God's promises: priests, because we are instruments of communion with the divine life received with baptism; kings, because we receive the royal power of the Lord through his grace, and prophets, because we are called to communicate the joy of the Gospel of Christ, who died and has risen for us.