Memory of the Church

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Memory of St. Athanasius (295-373), bishop of Alexandria in Egypt.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Philippians 1, 27-30

But you must always behave in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to you and see for myself or whether I only hear all about you from a distance, I shall find that you are standing firm and united in spirit, battling, as a team with a single aim, for the faith of the gospel,

undismayed by any of your opponents. This will be a clear sign, for them that they are to be lost, and for you that you are to be saved.

This comes from God, for you have been granted the privilege for Christ's sake not only of believing in him but of suffering for him as well;

you are fighting the same battle which you saw me fighting for him and which you hear I am fighting still.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul is aware that evil in the world can intimidate the disciples of the Lord. He himself experienced violence in the past and he continues to face violence while he is writing this letter, indeed he is in prison. He exhorts the Christians of Philippi, however, to not let themselves be intimidated by difficulties or by those who want to put obstacles in front of the path of community of believers. He writes to them: “live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ”. Jesus’ disciples, indeed, are by now “citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). The apostle wants to say that the “we” of the family of God makes Jesus’ disciples firm in the Gospel. No one can be a disciple alone. Faith in Jesus is never an individual enterprise. Encountering Jesus happens within the community of disciples, and in any event it places us in the community. And it is the communion in faith that gives strength to the disciples to communicate the Gospel to the world. This task, the apostle adds, is a struggle and entails suffering. It was that way for Jesus; it is this way for Paul and it will be this way for the disciples of every era. A certainty, however, dwells in the heart of the believers: God does not abandon his children. Convinced of the struggle that Christians must take up in the course of their earthly existence, the apostle writes to the Christians of Ephesus: “Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (6:13). By putting on the armour of love and of the zeal “to proclaim the gospel” (Eph 6:15) we will find the joy of being in the company of God and brothers and sisters, even if, as Paul writes in his letter, there will be no lack of difficulties.