Sunday, December 26, 2021
Fifth Sunday of Heesnag
 Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the LORD, the first,
and with the last; I am He.
 The coastlands have seen and are afraid,
the ends of the earth tremble;
they have drawn near and come.
 Every one helps his neighbor,
and says to his brother, “Take courage!”
 The craftsman encourages the goldsmith,
and he who smooths with the hammer him who strikes the anvil,
saying of the soldering, “It is good”;
and they fasten it with nails so that it cannot be moved.
 But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
 you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
 fear not, for I am with you,
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
 Behold, all who are incensed against you
shall be put to shame and confounded;
those who strive against you
shall be as nothing and shall perish.
 You shall seek those who contend with you,
but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
shall be as nothing at all.
 For I, the LORD your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I will help you.”
 Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I will help you, says the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.
 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.
 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchiz’edek,
 who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life.
 For it is witnessed of him, “Thou art a priest for ever,
after the order of Melchiz’edek.”
 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
 (for the law made nothing perfect); on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
 And it was not without an oath.
 Those who formerly became priests took their office without an oath, but this one was addressed with an oath, “The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
`Thou art a priest for ever.’”
 This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant.
 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office;
 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever.
 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
 He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom and then return.
 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten pounds, and said to them, `Trade with these till I come.’
 But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, `We do not want this man to reign over us.’
 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading.
 The first came before him, saying, `Lord, your pound has made ten pounds more.’
 And he said to him, `Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’
 And the second came, saying, `Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’
 And he said to him, `And you are to be over five cities.’
 Then another came, saying, `Lord, here is your pound, which I kept laid away in a napkin;
 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.’
 He said to him, `I will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?
 Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected it with interest?’
 And he said to those who stood by, `Take the pound from him, and give it to him who has the ten pounds.’
 (And they said to him, `Lord, he has ten pounds!’)
 `I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
 But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.’”
 And when he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America