Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 23,13-22

'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut up the kingdom of Heaven in people's faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to gowho want to.

'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and anyone who becomes one you make twice as fit for hell as you are.

'Alas for you, blind guides! You say, "If anyone swears by the Temple, it has no force; but anyone who swears by the gold of the Temple is bound."

Fools and blind! For which is of greater value, the gold or the Temple that makes the gold sacred?

Again, "If anyone swears by the altar it has no force; but anyone who swears by the offering on the altar, is bound."

You blind men! For which is of greater worth, the offering or the altar that makes the offering sacred?

Therefore, someone who swears by the altar is swearing by that and by everything on it.

And someone who swears by the Temple is swearing by that and by the One who dwells in it.

And someone who swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by the One who is seated there.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus continues his last speech to the crowd. He is speaking against the scribes and Pharisees, but he is not targeting them personally as much as criticizing their behaviour and especially their claim to be guides of the people. The true shepherd is the one who gives his life for the sheep, not the one who presumes to pile up heavy loads and external traditions on the backs of the people. Jesus’ love for the crowds is so great that he cannot stand for them to be crushed under the weight of the external traditions that the scribes and Pharisees place on them in the very name of Moses. They close the doors to happiness instead of opening them. Jesus came to free people from this heavy yoke. Today, we have listened to three of the seven curses that come one after the other in a persistent rhythm. They are all meant to unmask the falsity of those who claim to be shepherds by affirming themselves over others, perhaps imposing rules and practices that are born from a heart that is poor in love. Jesus lashes out against them with the first "woe to you." With their hypocritical attitude, the Pharisees narrow the doors of mercy, only leaving space for external formalities. But in doing so, they force other people out of the religion of love. Jesus continues to condemn fanatic and intolerant religiosity. It is not enough to "cross sea and land to make a single convert" if our heart is ruined by the arrogance of believing we are superior to others. With the third "woe to you," Jesus reveals the false religiosity of those who stop at rules and rituals and do not figure God into the equation, those, we could say, who participate in religious services but whose heart is far from the Lord. It is not simply our actions that count, but whether or not we turn our heart towards God.