Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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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

2 Peter 2, 15-21

They have left the right path and wandered off to follow the path of Balaam son of Bosor, who set his heart on a dishonest reward, but soon had his fault pointed out to him:

a dumb beast of burden, speaking with a human voice, put a stop to the madness of the prophet.

People like this are dried -- up springs, fogs swirling in the wind, and the gloom of darkness is stored up for them.

With their high-sounding but empty talk they tempt back people who have scarcely escaped from those who live in error, by playing on the disordered desires of their human nature and by debaucheries.

They may promise freedom but are themselves slaves to corruption; because if anyone lets himself be dominated by anything, then he is a slave to it;

and anyone who has escaped the pollution of the world by coming to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and who then allows himself to be entangled and mastered by it a second time, ends up by being worse than he was before.

It would have been better for them never to have learnt the way of uprightness, than to learn it and then desert the holy commandment that was entrusted to them.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostle exhorts the believers not to not become subject to the seductive power of evil that subtly insinuates itself into the life of the Christian community. The road of evil is like "the road of Balaam." Here the letter gives a different interpretation of the biblical story in the book of Numbers (see Num 22-23), where in fact Balaam was tempted by the riches offered to him by the king of Moab but he obeyed the Lord, even if it was an ass who showed him the path of obedience. Probably we are presented with a tradition current at the time of the author of the letter, which underlines the greed of Balaam who is corrupted by the king of Moab. Balaam, who was charged with the task of speaking on behalf of the Lord, was attracted by the greed of accumulating riches and deviated from prophesying. He was, however, put to shame by an ass who spoke in his stead bringing him back on the right path. Obedience to the Word of God prevents one from speaking "bombastic nonsense." Indeed, not nurturing oneself on the Word of God leads to becoming a "waterless spring." Every action and word that is not born from a heart that listens to the Lord not only fails to produce any fruit, but leads down the path of destruction. Living under the presumed liberty of thinking only for oneself is, in truth, a terrible form of slavery. Peter warns that "people are slaves to whatever masters them." This was once a principle from the ancient right of war: the defeated became the property of the victor. And so, evil, sin and egocentrism work to subjugate the heart of believers. Whoever lets them win becomes their slave. Hence, the apostle exhorts the believers to stay attentive and vigilant so as not to fall into the trap of evil. It is not enough to live in community and observe its rhythms, because in every case we are not immune to the slavery of evil and sin. This is why Peter notes, "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord... They are again entangled in them and overpowered. The last state has become worse for them than the first." The image of the dog that returns to its vomit and the clean pig that continuously rolls in the mud portray the apostle’s concern for the believers who may distance themselves from the love of the Lord and from obedience to God’s Word, ending up entrapped in the depressing tangle of sin.