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

2 Chronicles 4, 1-22

He made a bronze altar, twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide and ten cubits high.

He made the Sea of cast metal, ten cubits from rim to rim, circular in shape and five cubits high; a cord thirty cubits long gave the measurement of its girth.

Under it and completely encircling it were things like oxen, ten to the cubit round the entire Sea; the oxen were in two rows, of one and the same casting with the rest.

It rested on twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, three facing east; on these, their hindquarters all turned inwards, stood the Sea.

It was a hand's breadth in thickness, and its rim was shaped like the rim of a cup-lily-shaped. It could hold three thousand bat.

He made ten basins, putting five on the right and five on the left, for washing in; the things to be offered as burnt offerings were to be rinsed in these, but the Sea was for the priests to wash in.

He made the ten golden lamp-stands according to the pattern and placed them in the Hekal, five on the right and five on the left.

He made ten tables which he set up in the Hekal, five on the right and five on the left. He also made a hundred golden sprinkling bowls.

He made the court of the priests and the great court with its gates and plated the gates with bronze.

The Sea he placed on the right-hand side of the Temple, to the south-east.

Huram made the ash containers, the scoops and the sprinkling bowls. Thus Huram completed all the work done for King Solomon for the Temple of God:

the two pillars; the mouldings of the capitals surmounting the two pillars; the two sets of filigree to cover the two mouldings of the capitals surmounting the pillars;

the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of filigree -- two rows of pomegranates for each set of filigree;

the ten stands and the ten basins on the stands;

the one Sea and the twelve oxen beneath it;

the ash containers, scoops and forks. All these utensils made by Huram-Abi for King Solomon for the Temple of Yahweh were of burnished bronze.

The King made them by the process of sand casting, in the plain of the Jordan between Succoth and Zeredah.

There was such an enormous quantity of them that the weight of the bronze could not be calculated.

Solomon made all the objects designed for the Temple of God, as well as the golden altar and the tables for the loaves of permanent offering;

the lamp-stands with their lamps to burn, as prescribed, in front of the Debir, of pure gold;

the floral work, the lamps, the tongs, of gold (and it was pure gold);

the snuffers, the sprinkling bowls, incense ladles and the pans, of real gold; and the entrance to the Temple, the inner doors (for the Holy of Holies) and the doors of the Temple itself, that is of the Hekal, were also made of gold.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If in the preceding chapter the heart of the description is the Holy of Holies where the ark of the Covenant is conserved; here, in this chapter, the author focuses on the altar. Its construction is not spoken of in the first book of Kings, even if its existence is presupposed. The Chronicler imagines it as an imitation of the altar of Gibeon, already remembered in the first chapter, where David had ordained sacrifice to venerate the tent of the desert. It is the altar of holocausts which is surrounded by numerous and most precious furnishings, for the ordained and solemn performance of sacrifices. It was constructed close to a great reservoir of lustral water: “the sea of cast metal, it was round, ten cubits from rim to rim; … He also made ten basins in which to wash … He made ten golden lamp stands … He also made ten tables” (2 Chr 4) on which were placed the loaves of presence (Lev 24:6). All this in function of the grandeur of the sacrificial rites. Also a special space for the priests, the “atrium of the priests” was built so that an ordered execution of their work was made possible. In reading this page there arises in our mind the similar attention paid to the place where the ark of the Covenant that keeps the Torah is located. We may say: the altar and the Word are the two realities which will find their completion in Jesus, the new and definitive temple of God’s presence among humanity. In the Church the presence of Christ continues through the Word and the Altar, that is, through the Eucharist. Both are to be surrounded by loving care and attention. In them is present and manifested the same mystery, that of Jesus dead and risen for our salvation. In the Latin liturgy, the Evangeliary [Note: case containing the Gospels] carried in procession is placed on the altar, so to unite the Gospel and the Eucharist, the one bread descended from heaven. The evangelist John first announces: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life” (6:54) and then adds: “anyone who hears my word … has eternal life” (5:24). Jesus became living Word and broken Bread for all. This is what happened to the two travellers to Emmaus on the first Easter. Gregory the Great, with spiritual intelligence, comments: “In the breaking of the bread, they recognize the Lord, whom they had not known through the exposition of the Scriptures.” It is an ancient and ever new exhortation to get close to the Holy Scriptures with faithfulness and never to distance ourselves from the Altar. Thus we are built up in the spiritual temple which we are called first of all to receive and to consolidate. While we approach these pages of the book of Chronicles, the Lord helps us to broaden our mind and our heart to be testimony of his love in the world.