Memory of the Church

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Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Europe and the Americas


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 7,25-8,6

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. The principal point of all that we have said is that we have a high priest of exactly this kind. He has taken his seat at the right of the throne of divine Majesty in the heavens, and he is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tent which the Lord, and not any man, set up. Every high priest is constituted to offer gifts and sacrifices, and so this one too must have something to offer. In fact, if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are others who make the offerings laid down by the Law, though these maintain the service only of a model or a reflection of the heavenly realities; just as Moses, when he had the Tent to build, was warned by God who said: See that you work to the design that was shown you on the mountain. As it is, he has been given a ministry as far superior as is the covenant of which he is the mediator, which is founded on better promises.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Continuing his reflection on the centrality of the new "high priest" for the Church, the author affirms that Jesus does not carry out his duties on earth, but in heaven: "we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up." This is a new type of worship: Jesus is not a priest like the Levites who officiated in the temple to offer God things of the earth. Indeed, the letter continues, Jesus could not even have been a priest on earth, because in the temple the offerings and sacrifices are prescribed by the Law, while Jesus offered himself once and for all, establishing a new form of worship according to the laws of heaven. Already in the book of Wisdom it is noted that the temple in Jerusalem is a "a copy of the holy tent that you prepared from the beginning" (Wis 9:8). Some rabbis even thought that the heavenly sanctuary was right in front of the earthly temple and that there was a strong correspondence between the service of the angels in heaven and the service of the priests on earth. There is indeed a link between earthly and heavenly worship. The Letter affirms that Jesus is the high priest of the true tabernacle, which embraces both heaven and earth, while the priests of the temple perform their service in a sanctuary that is only a copy of the first. And if the tabernacle of Moses was the simple work of humans, God has built the true tabernacle in Christ, the definitive holy temple, the community of believers. This is why the covenant between Good and humanity, mediated by Jesus the high priest, is superior to the preceding one. The "promises" of the new pact are extraordinary, because they bring heaven to earth, establishing a new temple and creating a new people that gives witness to God's salvation. The prophet Jeremiah had already spoken of four future promises, "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." In the new temple established by Christ the Law is no longer written on stones, like at Sinai, but in the hearts of disciples, through the Spirit poured out on them. They will live in a profound communion with God and with their brothers and sisters, and they will become the new people that testifies love and forgiveness for all.