Memory of the Church

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Memory of Floribert Bwana Chui, a young Congolese man, who was killed by unknown people in Goma for he opposed corruption.

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

Judith 2,14-28

Leaving the presence of his sovereign, Holofernes immediately summoned all the marshals, generals and officers of the Assyrian army

and detailed the picked troops as his master had ordered, about a hundred and twenty thousand men and a further twelve thousand mounted archers.

He organised these in the normal battle formation.

He then secured vast numbers of camels, donkeys and mules to carry the baggage, and innumerable sheep, oxen and goats for food supplies.

Every man received full rations and a generous sum of gold and silver from the king's purse.

He then set out for the campaign with his whole army, in advance of King Nebuchadnezzar, to overwhelm the whole western region with his chariots, his horsemen and his picked body of foot.

A motley gathering followed in his rear, as numerous as locusts or the grains of sand on the ground; there was no counting their multitude.

Thus they set out from Nineveh and marched for three days towards the Plain of Bectileth. From Bectileth they went on to pitch camp near the mountains that lie to the north of Upper Cilicia.

From there Holofernes advanced into the highlands with his whole army, infantry, horsemen, chariots.

He cut his way through Put and Lud, carried away captive all the sons of Rassis and sons of Ishmael living on the verge of the desert south of Cheleon,

marched along the Euphrates, crossed Mesopotamia, rased all the fortified towns controlling the Wadi Abron and reached the sea.

Next he attacked the territories of Cilicia, butchering all who offered him resistance, advanced on the southern frontiers of Japheth, facing Arabia,

completely encircled the Midianites, burned their tents and plundered their sheep-folds,

made his way down to the Damascus plain at the time of the wheat harvest, set fire to the fields, destroyed the flocks and herds, sacked the towns, laid the countryside waste and put all the young men to the sword.

Fear and trembling seized all the coastal peoples; those of Sidon and Tyre, those of Sur, Ocina and Jamnia. The populations of Azotos and Ascalon were panic-stricken.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

King Nebuchadnezzar entrusts his plan for world domination to his general Holofernes, who assembles an army of immense power. Nebuchadnezzar had already conquered the East with his victory over Ecbatana, when he killed king Arphaxad on the plains of Ragau. Now he intends to carry out his campaign against the west to conquer it. The author describes the army as being a tremendous military power with abundant provisions composed of "a mixed crowd like a swarm of locusts, like the dust of the earth." In this description we easily catch a glimpse of the power of the prince of evil who wants to conquer the whole world. In the Book of Judith, indeed, there is a description of the definitive battle between the power of God and that of the devil. And here we see that evil knows how to find its allies and servants to fight its battle for the conquest of hearts. Holofernes sets out to conquer the west. He advances without meeting any obstacles. He exterminates and lays waste not only to the people and land, but also to the consciences of all the people that he encounters. It appears that total victory is imminent. But, it is precisely in this moment when it seems that evil will win that God will defeat the enemy through the weakness of a woman, Judith. Evil seems to attack people without meeting any resistance: the hearts of the people draw away from what is good, come under the subjugation of evil and are enslaved by violence. Power is not always personified clearly. True, there has been no lack of totalitarian regimes that have crushed men and women. But today, a subtle power insinuates itself in the heart: a materialistic mentality, which does not always have a precise face, but nonetheless advances tirelessly in the conquest of hearts and minds. In these first chapters, it seems that the Book of Judith gives free reign to the power of evil. However, it is at the very moment when evil seems to have taken over everything, that it will face its demise. When evil has exercised most of its power, it will find the reserves of its violence exhausted and its strength will fail it. God did not abandon his people to evil. God continues to be present in the world guiding history. Scriptures tell us that God is present in humility and weakness; and this truth is revealed magnificently in the Book of Judith. We can say that God permits evil to manifest itself so powerfully so as to destroy it down to its root. This is the mystery that will reveal itself in Jesus Christ: that it is precisely when evil seems to have finally defeated God in his Son that evil is definitively destroyed. The advance of destruction is obviously worrisome, but at the same time all believers are asked again to put their faith in God and in his strength.