Week 30, Sunday. Words of THE WORD.

“Let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice; constantly seek His face." (Psalm 105:3-4)

Almighty ever-living God,
increase our faith, hope and charity,
and make us love what you command,
so that we may merit what you promise.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (click for full Psalm)
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy. (Psalm 126:3).

SCRIPTURE EXCERPT (click for all readings)
“Brothers and sisters:
Every high priest is taken from among men
and made their representative before God,
to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring,
for he himself is beset by weakness
and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself
as well as for the people.
No one takes this honor upon himself
but only when called by God,
just as Aaron was.
In the same way,
it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest,
but rather the one who said to him:
You are my son:
this day I have begotten you;
just as he says in another place:
You are a priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.”
(Letter to the Hebrews 4:14-16)

As the sequential proclamation from the Letter to the Hebrews continues this Sunday, the Sacred Text places before us once again the Person Jesus, the Eternal High Priest Who lives forever to make intercession for us. Timely as it is, this Proclamation comes only a few days after the publication of the Synod on The New Evangelization’s Message to the People of God. Article 3 of that document, “The personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Church,” is worth pondering in the light of Hebrews.
“Before saying anything about the forms that this new evangelization must assume, we feel the need to tell you with profound conviction that the faith determines everything in the relationship that we build with the person of Jesus who takes the initiative to encounter us. The work of the new evangelization consists in presenting once more the beauty and perennial newness of the encounter with Christ to the often distracted and confused heart and mind of the men and women of our time, above all to ourselves. We invite you all to contemplate the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, to enter the mystery of his existence given for us on the cross, reconfirmed in his resurrection from the dead as the Father’s gift and imparted to us through the Spirit. In the person of Jesus, the mystery of God the Father’s love for the entire human family is revealed. He did not want us to remain in a false autonomy. Rather he reconciled us to himself in a renewed pact of love.
The Church is the space offered by Christ in history where we can encounter him, because he entrusted to her his Word, the Baptism that makes us God’s children, his Body and his Blood, the grace of forgiveness of sins above all in the sacrament of Reconciliation, the experience of communion that reflects the very mystery of the Holy Trinity, the strength of the Spirit that generates charity towards all.
We must form welcoming communities in which all outcasts find a home, concrete experiences of communion which attract the disenchanted glance of contemporary humanity with the ardent force of love – “See how they love one another!” (Tertullian, Apology, 39, 7). The beauty of faith must particularly shine in the actions of the sacred Liturgy, above all in the Sunday Eucharist. It is precisely in liturgical celebrations that the Church reveals herself as God’s work and renders the meaning of the Gospel visible in word and gesture.
It is up to us today to render experiences of the Church concretely accessible, to multiply the wells where thirsting men and women are invited to encounter Jesus, to offer oases in the deserts of life. Christian communities and, in them, every disciple of the Lord are responsible for this: an irreplaceable testimony has been entrusted to each one, so that the Gospel can enter the lives of all. This requires of us holiness of life.”
This “holiness of life,” – the summons and imperative of Baptism-Confirmation-Holy Eucharist – is made possible through the mediation of Jesus’ Priesthood. Pope Leo the Great, writing in the fifth century put it this way:
“Our origin, corrupted right after its start, needed to be reborn with new beginnings. A victim had to be offered for reconciliation, a victim that was at one and the same time both related to our race and foreign to our defilement. In this way alone could the plan of God — wherein it pleased him that the sin of the world should be wiped away through the birth and passion of Jesus Christ — in this way alone could the plan of God be of any avail for the times of every generation. Nor would the mysteries — as they pass through various developments in time — disturb us. Instead, they would reassure us, since the faith by which we live would not have differed at any stage.
Let them stop complaining, those who speak up against the divine arrangements with a disloyal murmuring and object to the lateness of our Lord’s nativity — as if that which was done in the last age of the world was not applied to previous eras as well. For the incarnation of the Word accomplished by being about to take place the very same thing that it did by having taken place — as the mystery of human salvation never ceased to be active in any earlier age. What the apostles preached, the prophets had also announced. Nor was it too late in being fulfilled, since it has always been believed. But the wisdom and “kindness of God” — by this delay in his salvific work — has made us better disposed to accept his calling. That way, what had been foretold through so many ages by numerous signs, numerous words and numerous mysteries would not be open to doubt in these days of the gospel. That way, the birth of the Savior — which was to exceed all wonders and the whole measure of human intelligence — would engender in us a faith all the more steadfast, the more often and the earlier it had been proclaimed beforehand.
No, indeed, it is not that God has just recently come up with a plan for attending to human affairs, nor that it has taken him this long to show compassion. Rather, he laid down from the very “foundation of the world” one and the same “cause of salvation” for all. For the grace of God — by which the entire assembly of saints has always been justified — was not initiated at the time when Christ was born, but augmented. This “mystery of great compassion,” with which the whole world has now been filled, was so powerful even in its prefiguration that those who believed it when promised attained to it no less than those who received it when actually given (Sermon 23).