Memory of the Poor

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Memory of St. Stephen (+1038), king of Hungary. He was converted to the Gospel and promoted the evangelisation of his country.

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 19, 23-30

Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.'

When the disciples heard this they were astonished. 'Who can be saved, then?' they said.

Jesus gazed at them. 'By human resources', he told them, 'this is impossible; for God everything is possible.'

Then Peter answered and said, 'Look, we have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?'

Jesus said to them, 'In truth I tell you, when everything is made new again and the Son of man is seated on his throne of glory, you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much, and also inherit eternal life.

'Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The rich young man just went away sad. He preferred to stay with his wealth rather than leave it and follow Jesus. His possessions are closer to his heart than this teacher. Immediately afterwards, Jesus turns to the disciples and - with a bit of sadness at not having convinced the young man - reveals that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus does not say that it is impossible. He does not argue in a Manichean way that wealth is evil. Nonetheless, it is a condition that easily leads to greed, that makes avarice more comfortable, that makes it easier to forget others, and that favours an attachment to material things. To help people understand this difficulty he gives a truly incredible example: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." It is a thought-provoking exaggeration, and the disciples immediately react: "Then who can be saved?" This question should resound more loudly in a world in one of highest priorities is to seek after material possessions with determination and at any cost. Jesus can not diminish the danger wealth represents for Christian life, or more simply, for human life. Jesus has already warned his disciples repeatedly that they cannot serve God and Mammon, that is, money (Mt 6:24). Unfortunately in today’s society money, wealth, and possessions have become idols that demand total dedication. And it is easy to sacrifice life itself on their altars. It seems impossible for a rich person to be saved. But Jesus immediately adds: "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Faith and complete trust in God move the human heart from trying to posses to trusting in God completely. Peter begins to understand and asks what those who abandon everything and entrust themselves to God will receive. Jesus offers an extraordinary response that demonstrates God’s generosity towards those who entrust themselves to Him: they will receive in this life a hundred times what they left behind. This is to say that he or she will be surrounded by brothers and sisters and their fraternity will cover him or her with love. This is the meaning of the life in community that is given to Jesus’ disciples. And after death, eternal life. It is the opposite of what is commonly believed. The Gospel takes nothing away; rather it enriches life, both in this world and after.