Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Orthodox Churches.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 3, 1-6

Another time he went into the synagogue, and there was a man present whose hand was withered.

And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath day, hoping for something to charge him with.

He said to the man with the withered hand, 'Get up and stand in the middle!'

Then he said to them, 'Is it permitted on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?' But they said nothing.

Then he looked angrily round at them, grieved to find them so obstinate, and said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out and his hand was restored.

The Pharisees went out and began at once to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

It is Saturday and we are probably in Capernaum. Jesus, as usual, goes to the synagogue for prayer. Here, he met a man with a seriously disabled arm. Maybe this disability prevented him from working. In an apocryphal Gospel we read that this man said the following prayer: "I was a bricklayer, I earned my living with the work of my hands; O Jesus, I pray to you to heal me so that I may not have to beg shamefully for my bread." Maybe we can see in this man all those who had accidents on the work place and cannot work anymore. They are a huge number. As soon as Jesus sees him, he is moved, as he always is when he meets the sick and the weak. The Pharisees, who are absolutely careless about the sick man, try to find grounds for accusation against Jesus. The young prophet of Nazareth, although aware of the wicked hearts of the Pharisees, cures the sick man. "Stretch out your hand," Jesus orders him. The man obeys Jesus’ word and stretches his hand. Obedience to the Gospel always leads to healing; it makes us conquer again what we have lost because of our sin and fragility. Jesus has come so that every human being may not be slave of him or herself and his and her narrow horizons, but so that they may share God’s very horizon - that is, salvation for all. Healing does not occur so that people may be slaves to themselves - such is the meaning of the withered hand - but rather to serve others and the common good. The hand is healed so that we can "give a hand" - as people say - to those who are in need. This is why Jesus does not break the Sabbath, as the Pharisees accuse him. With this healing, the true "Sabbath" (that is God’s day) breaks into human life; in that man, creation is fulfilled. Every time God’s mercy and salvation touch human lives, the "Sabbath" of God is fulfilled. The Sabbath is the celebration of love and fullness of life.