Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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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 12, 4-7.11-15

In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of bloodshed.

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, do not scorn correction from the Lord, do not resent his training,

for the Lord trains those he loves, and chastises every son he accepts.

Perseverance is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him?

Of course, any discipline is at the time a matter for grief, not joy; but later, in those who have undergone it, it bears fruit in peace and uprightness.

So steady all weary hands and trembling knees

and make your crooked paths straight; then the injured limb will not be maimed, it will get better instead.

Seek peace with all people, and the holiness without which no one can ever see the Lord.

Be careful that no one is deprived of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness should begin to grow and make trouble; this can poison a large number.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

As we have seen before, the Letter to the Hebrews responds to a community probably yielding to difficulty and opposition. It encourages them to think of their suffering for the cause of the Gospel not as a sign of the Father's condemnation but rather of his desire to correct and purify. Being a disciple always involves the severity of education and therefore the intervention of the Lord is needed to change our heart and behaviour. This is also true of brotherly correction, a difficult yet nonetheless necessary art, though it is not always practised. It requires responsibility for whoever must apply it and causes bitterness for whoever must receive it. Yet, from the labour of education and the momentary sorrow for correction serenity and peace mature at the end. When someone corrects us, it is a - sign of love because it is an expression of the Father who corrects his children. If we were not corrected, we would never change. The Christian Community was at risk of growing weak in faith and thus the author exhorts them to recapture their Gospel fervour: “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed” (12:12). This exhortation reminds us of how indispensible correction is in the life of the disciple. Being followers of Jesus requires that we change our hearts and modify our thoughts; it requires that we let the Gospel be our guide rather than our pride, instincts or habits. Only by adhering to the Gospel and its teachings can we grow in wisdom and love. The great question of pastoral art, as the Fathers of the Church called it, very much concerns “pastors,” that is, leaders of the community, who are called to be committed to the inner growth of believers. In truth, every disciple is called to correct him or herself and to help others to grow in faith and holiness. The author asks all Christians to keep watch so that “no one fails to obtain the grace of God.” One might say that the entire community is called to be vigilant, that is, to exercise its “episcopal” task in caring for the faith of its own brothers and sisters. Part of this vigilance also means not allowing “poisonous roots,” that is egocentric attitudes, to trouble its life and impede the growth of the community.