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

Proverbs 23, 1-14

If you take your seat at a great man's table, take careful note of what you have before you;

if you have a big appetite put a knife to your throat.

Do not hanker for his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.

Do not wear yourself out in quest of wealth, stop applying your mind to this.

Fix your gaze on it, and it is there no longer, for it is able to sprout wings like an eagle that flies off to the sky.

Do not eat the food of anyone whose eye is jealous, do not hanker for his delicacies.

For what he is really thinking about is himself: 'Eat and drink,' he tells you, but his heart is not with you.

You will spit out whatever you have eaten and find your compliments wasted.

Do not waste words on a fool, who will not appreciate the shrewdness of your remarks.

Do not displace the ancient boundary-stone, or encroach on orphans' lands,

for they have a powerful avenger, and he will take up their cause against you.

Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to instructive sayings.

Do not be chary of correcting a child, a stroke of the cane is not likely to be fatal.

Give him a stroke of the cane, you will save his soul from Sheol.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage reports a series of proverbs that invite us to moderation and practice of justice. The author is confronted with the attraction of a rich society. Indeed, who does not wish to live in abundance and prosperity? Our materialistic society, too asserts the culture of riches and money in such a way that everyone is ready to do anything to obtain them. Moreover, unlimited possessions in turn justify transgressing the law and the principles of justice that are intended to protect the needy and poor. We live in a true dictatorship of materialism. The text, however, admonishes that the delicacies of the rich are deceptive. Happiness does not come from materialistic self-fulfilment because riches come and go rapidly, without our even realizing it: "When your eyes light upon it, it is gone; for suddenly it takes wings to itself, flying like an eagle towards heaven." If the greedy rich person wants you to involve you in something, be careful as he thinks only of himself. Verse 9 moves from an admonishment of the fool to two situations which Proverbs frequently addresses: the defence of the orphan and the discipline of children. The text begins with a concrete situation that addresses the issue of land ownership. The context of the passage puts us in an agrarian society that prizes land ownership because it signifies self-sufficiency and survival. For this reason, the text invites people not to change the boundaries of the fields of orphans because from them they are sustained. In such cases, God intervenes as the defender of orphans and widows and as the one who renders justice for the poor (Ps. 146). Significantly, the text calls us not to be deceived by wealth that tempts one to steal property from orphans, as that is an act of grave injustice. Greed creates injustice because the only goal of the greedy person, who "only thinks of himself," is to increase his own assets and goods. The text concludes with a constant concern of the Book of Proverbs: namely, a call to disciplining children because correction enables the youth to grow. In a society of orphans, where people follow and listen only to themselves for guidance and do not have anyone to listen to and follow and where false ideas of liberty and self-determination reign, we all need fathers to whom we can turn. Let us accept correction so that we will grow in faith, wisdom and humanity. The disciples of Jesus will always find in the mother Church someone ready to help and correct them.