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

Song of Songs 1, 1-4

Solomon's Song of Songs:

BELOVED: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love-making is sweeter than wine;

delicate is the fragrance of your perfume, your name is an oil poured out, and that is why girls love you.

Draw me in your footsteps, let us run. The king has brought me into his rooms; you will be our joy and our gladness. We shall praise your love more than wine; how right it is to love you.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After the title that attributes the song to King Solomon, the Song of Songs opens with the request from a woman to be kissed by the king and introduced to his nuptial chamber. It is the request of a passionate woman who urgently demands an answer. These words read like a love poem between Israel and the Lord. The author portrays Israel, rather than the Lord, as the pursuer, desiring her Lord’s kisses, caresses and perfume. Her happiness comes from union with the Lord. Her desire is an interior movement that St. Augustine well describes in his Confessions, "You made us for you, and our hearts do not rest until they rest in you." In this woman, we may see each of us, the Christian Community that longs to be kissed by the king and enter into his nuptial chamber in order to be united with him. In Biblical language, the word "king" alludes to the Lord to whom the kingdom belongs (Ps 22:28), as the "anointing oil" refers to the Messiah, king of Israel, or the "nuptial chamber" alludes to the inner sanctum of the Temple where Israel and the Lord embrace. When Israel was deprived of the Temple, Rabbis would interpret the kisses of the Lord as the gift of the Law from Mt. Sinai. Unlike a fixed Temple, the Torah could be carried anywhere: "The law itself went to every Israelite and said to them, ‘Would you accept to preserve me...’ and they responded, ‘Yes, yes’ and immediately the law would kiss them on the lips" (Targum). For Christians, the call of the Song of Songs leads us to consider that intimacy with the Lord is indispensable and can be felt through concrete signs that manifest his presence. On the one hand, the passionate words of this woman manifest her ardour for her lover and on the other remind us of the fear that often assails us to be loved and to be fully enveloped in the love of the Lord. How many times do we prefer to manage our time and resources by and for ourselves! It is the temptation to believe in self-sufficiency and independence from others as a dimension we need to preserve. The woman, being well aware of this dynamic, seeks full intimacy with her Lord. Independence is a choice of loneliness. The words of the Song of Songs that are so real remind us of our need to "touch" God, to love and to be loved in and through concrete gestures. Bernard de Clairvaux commented on this passage by linking it to the scene in which a woman anoints Jesus’ feet (Lk 7:36-50) and he has the woman say, "I cannot be satisfied unless he kisses me with the kiss of his mouth. I thank him for the kiss of his feet and of his hand but if he truly loves me, let him kiss me with the kiss of his lips. I am not ungrateful, I love. I have received more than I am worthy ... yet less than I desire. It is desire that moves me, not reason. Modesty protests, yet it is love that wins." As we begin to reflect on the pages of the Song of Songs, let us allow them to touch our hearts and warm them for the Lord. We need to do it.