Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Memory of don Andrea Santoro, a Roman priest killed in Trebisonda in Turkey

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 14, 1-23

Give a welcome to anyone whose faith is not strong, but do not get into arguments about doubtful points.

One person may have faith enough to eat any kind of food; another, less strong, will eat only vegetables.

Those who feel free to eat freely are not to condemn those who are unwilling to eat freely; nor must the person who does not eat freely pass judgement on the one who does -- because God has welcomed him.

And who are you, to sit in judgement over somebody else's servant? Whether he deserves to be upheld or to fall is for his own master to decide; and he shall be upheld, for the Lord has power to uphold him.

One person thinks that some days are holier than others, and another thinks them all equal. Let each of them be fully convinced in his own mind.

The one who makes special observance of a particular day observes it in honour of the Lord. So the one who eats freely, eats in honour of the Lord, making his thanksgiving to God; and the one who does not, abstains from eating in honour of the Lord and makes his thanksgiving to God.

For none of us lives for himself and none of us dies for himself;

while we are alive, we are living for the Lord, and when we die, we die for the Lord: and so, alive or dead, we belong to the Lord.

It was for this purpose that Christ both died and came to life again: so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Why, then, does one of you make himself judge over his brother, and why does another among you despise his brother? All of us will have to stand in front of the judgement-seat of God:

as scripture says: By my own life says the Lord, every knee shall bow before me, every tongue shall give glory to God.

It is to God, then, that each of us will have to give an account of himself.

Let us each stop passing judgement, therefore, on one another and decide instead that none of us will place obstacles in any brother's way, or anything that can bring him down.

I am sure, and quite convinced in the Lord Jesus, that no food is unclean in itself; it is only if someone classifies any kind of food as unclean, then for him it is unclean.

And indeed, if through any kind of food you are causing offence to a brother, then you are no longer being guided by love. You are not to let the food that you eat cause the ruin of anyone for whom Christ died.

A privilege of yours must not be allowed to give rise to harmful talk;

for it is not eating and drinking that make the kingdom of God, but the saving justice, the peace and the joy brought by the Holy Spirit.

It is the person who serves Christ in these things that will be approved by God and respected by everyone.

So then, let us be always seeking the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another.

Do not wreck God's work for the sake of food. Certainly all foods are clean; but all the same, any kind can be evil for someone to whom it is an offence to eat it.

It is best to abstain from eating any meat, or drinking any wine, or from any other activity which might cause a brother to fall away, or to be scandalised, or to weaken.

Within yourself, before God, hold on to what you already believe. Blessed is the person whose principles do not condemn his practice.

But anyone who eats with qualms of conscience is condemned, because this eating does not spring from faith -- and every action which does not spring from faith is sin.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

As was the case in Corinth, in the Christian community of Rome there were the “strong”, that is, those who considered themselves free from every tie to tradition, and the “weak”, that is, those who still lived according to some rules associated with the Judeo-Christian context. The dispute focused mostly around the rules related to permitted food. Paul repeats Jesus’ teaching almost word-for-word: no food is unclean in and of itself, but rather all foods are a gift from the Lord to his children. The gravity of the situation came from the fact that each group was making weighty accusations against the other. Paul has severe words for the disciples who, in their arrogance and pride, judge and despise others. They waste the energy of communion that has been given to them and weaken the community itself. Every time we value our judgments and our ideas more than unity. we end up loving what divides and despising what builds up. The apostle reminds Christians of the primacy of fraternity and communion in the lives of disciples. They are urged to live first for the Lord and his Gospel and not for themselves and their own ideas. The Gospel, and only the Gospel, is the source and the very reason of being of the communion that exists between believers. Communion is not built by arguing about the observance of rituals and precepts, nor by affirming that “strength” of one’s own pride. It is built by the “weakness” of a life stretched out to save the fraternity of the Christian community. What saves communion is always and only the love of God, welcomed into our hearts and practiced in our daily life. The disciples’ most important responsibility is to keep and defend the fraternal love that they receive from high: it is the most precious thing for us to guard and keep. In fact, it is in this, Jesus says, that they will recognize that we are his disciples.