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Within the Octave of Christmas;
St. Thomas of Canterbury

Bishop, Martyr

December 29

Epistle  •  Hebrews 5:1-6

Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews.

[The Epistle of this day reminds us that Christ is a Priest and the example for all priests and bishops.]

Brethren, Every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God: that he may offer up gifts, and sacrifices for sins: who can have compassion on them that are ignorant and that err: because he himself also is compassed with infirmity: and therefore he ought, as for the people so also for himself, to offer for sins. Neither doth any man take the honor to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.

So Christ also did not glorify Himself that He might be made a high priest; but He that said unto Him: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. As He saith also in another place: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.

Gospel  •  John 10:11-16

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. John.  

[St. Thomas à Becket knew how to prove himself like Christ, the good shepherd, Who defends his flock against the ravages of the wolf.]

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth His life for His sheep. But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep: and the hireling fleeth, because he is a hireling and he hath no care for the sheep.

I am the good Shepherd: and I know Mine, and Mine know Me. As the Father knoweth Me, and I know the Father: and I lay down My life for My sheep. And other sheep I have that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.