Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Judith 5,1-4

Holofernes, general-in-chief of the Assyrian army, received the intelligence that the Israelites were preparing for war, that they had closed the mountain passes, fortified all the high peaks and laid obstructions in the plains.

Holofernes was furious. He summoned all the princes of Moab, all the generals of Ammon and all the satraps of the coastal regions.

'Men of Canaan,' he said, 'tell me: what people is this that occupies the hill-country? What towns does it inhabit? How large is its army? What are the sources of its power and strength? Who is the king who rules it and commands its army?

Why have they disdained to wait on me, as all the western peoples have?'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Holofernes, blinded by power, doesn’t understand the reasons which impel this small people to resist his army. The Jews prepare themselves to resist by placing defences upon the mountains, raising walls around all the villages and stockpiling provisions. The powerful general is seized with fury. Who is this people who dares to resist Nebuchadnezzar’s might? The other nations refused to fight and surrendered to the enemy: "Behold, we are your servants, come and treat us as you wish" (3:4). Though he has destroyed their temples, Holofernes has not been cruel to them or threatened their lives. Rather, he has made them his auxiliaries. At first they were enemies, now they become Nebuchadnezzar’s allies and wage war against those who dare resist his power. But this is what happens to everyone who allows themselves to be entrapped by evil: they become foolish accomplices and servants of it. In effect, those peoples became allies of the evil one in order to do evil to others also. It is not possible to remain neutral before evil. If we do not resist its pressure we will be dominated by evil and become its instrument. Those who resist evil, on the other hand, provoke a furious reaction because this escapes all worldly logic. Holofernes, and with him all evildoers, do not understand; they do not get it. But their self-assuredness will lead them to defeat. On the other hand, the trust of those who are weak in the Lord is the guarantee of their defence. The power of evil can cause dismay, but it cannot touch one’s faith in God. The one who believes knows that God is stronger than all. Faith, that is, an intimate and deep bond with God, is the true defence of the believer: even in the storm it yields not. The evil one, before the believer’s faith, is dismayed, precisely like Holofernes, who marvelled at Judah’s resistance. He asks himself: "What people is this that lives in the hill country?" (5:3). He cannot understand. The world cannot understand God, it cannot know his power. Only in faith can one discover the living God. And faith belongs only to those who live a direct, immediate relationship with God. Holofernes, blinded by his power, thinks that the God of Judah is not different than the other gods who have not been able to defend the nations that he had subjected to Nebuchadnezzar. He does not even consider taking their God into account. This is the beginning of his defeat.