Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Romans 11, 1-36

What I am saying is this: is it possible that God abandoned his people? Out of the question! I too am an Israelite, descended from Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

God never abandoned his own people to whom, ages ago, he had given recognition. Do you not remember what scripture says about Elijah and how he made a complaint to God against Israel:

Lord, they have put your prophets to the sword, torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they want to kill me?

And what was the prophetic answer given? I have spared for myself seven thousand men that have not bent the knee to Baal.

In the same way, then, in our own time, there is a remnant, set aside by grace.

And since it is by grace, it cannot now be by good actions, or grace would not be grace at all!

What follows? Israel failed to find what it was seeking; only those who were chosen found it and the rest had their minds hardened;

just as it says in scripture: God has infused them with a spirit of lethargy; until today they have not eyes to see or ears to hear.

David too says: May their own table prove a trap for them, a pitfall and a snare; let that be their retribution.

May their eyes grow so dim they cannot see, and their backs be bent for ever.

What I am saying is this: Was this stumbling to lead to their final downfall? Out of the question! On the contrary, their failure has brought salvation for the gentiles, in order to stir them to envy.

And if their fall has proved a great gain to the world, and their loss has proved a great gain to the gentiles -- how much greater a gain will come when all is restored to them!

Let me say then to you gentiles that, as far as I am an apostle to the gentiles, I take pride in this work of service;

and I want it to be the means of rousing to envy the people who are my own blood-relations and so of saving some of them.

Since their rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, do you know what their re-acceptance will mean? Nothing less than life from the dead!

When the first-fruits are made holy, so is the whole batch; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Now suppose that some branches were broken off, and you are wild olive, grafted among the rest to share with the others the rich sap of the olive tree;

then it is not for you to consider yourself superior to the other branches; and if you start feeling proud, think: it is not you that sustain the root, but the root that sustains you.

You will say, 'Branches were broken off on purpose for me to be grafted in.' True;

they through their unbelief were broken off, and you are established through your faith. So it is not pride that you should have, but fear:

if God did not spare the natural branches, he might not spare you either.

Remember God's severity as well as his goodness: his severity to those who fell, and his goodness to you as long as you persevere in it; if not, you too will be cut off.

And they, if they do not persevere in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for it is within the power of God to graft them back again.

After all, if you, cut off from what was by nature a wild olive, could then be grafted unnaturally on to a cultivated olive, how much easier will it be for them, the branches that naturally belong there, to be grafted on to the olive tree which is their own.

I want you to be quite certain, brothers, of this mystery, to save you from congratulating yourselves on your own good sense: part of Israel had its mind hardened, but only until the gentiles have wholly come in;

and this is how all Israel will be saved. As scripture says: From Zion will come the Redeemer, he will remove godlessness from Jacob.

And this will be my covenant with them, when I take their sins away.

As regards the gospel, they are enemies, but for your sake; but as regards those who are God's choice, they are still well loved for the sake of their ancestors.

There is no change of mind on God's part about the gifts he has made or of his choice.

Just as you were in the past disobedient to God but now you have been shown mercy, through their disobedience;

so in the same way they are disobedient now, so that through the mercy shown to you they too will receive mercy.

God has imprisoned all human beings in their own disobedience only to show mercy to them all.

How rich and deep are the wisdom and the knowledge of God! We cannot reach to the root of his decisions or his ways.

Who has ever known the mind of the Lord? Who has ever been his adviser?

Who has given anything to him, so that his presents come only as a debt returned?

Everything there is comes from him and is caused by him and exists for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this third reflection on the significance of Israel in the salvation story, Paul is trying to grasp God’s plan for his people. Even though he has affirmed that the true Israel is only made up of the small remnant that showed themselves to be faithful to its God by accepting Jesus as the Messiah, Paul poses the question of what will happen to those who have not made this decisive step. Can we imagine that by choosing a people composed of Jews and Gentiles, God had repudiated the historical Israel and abandoned it to its destiny? From the beginning, Paul powerfully affirms that the Lord has certainly not abandoned “his people.” Their refusal of the proclamation of salvation is a mystery that causes him deep suffering. But the apostle is certain that this obstinate refusal, which cannot be explained, is not their final position. Paul can make out a mysterious relationship between the people of Israel and the new covenant, which will be made visible at a moment in the history of salvation that is not yet known. The new covenant is bonded to the first one just as a branch is bonded to the old tree onto which it has been grafted. Consequently, the believers of the new covenant should not let themselves become proud: on the contrary, they are called to give thanks for having been called to salvation. Paul closes with a hymn to the profundity of divine wisdom, which never stops guiding human history. He writes to the Romans, “So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.” This is a prophetic vision of history that reveals a unique closeness between ancient Israel and those who believe in Christ. The latter are always asked to recognize the presence of God in human history – the blessed John XXIII would say to recognize “the signs of the times” – and to participate in history in order to guide it towards the kingdom of love and peace. The Jews remain the people of the promise, from whom came the man Jesus. The light of God’s presence, revealed in the books of the Law and the Prophets, created Israel. And we can say that “Israel” is our ancestor “in the faith,” the ancestor of the people of the new covenant, founded on Jesus’ gift, the greatest sprout of Israel.