Memory of the Church

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Memory of the prophet Isaiah

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

Colossians 1, 3-8

We give thanks for you to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, continually in our prayers,

ever since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you show towards all God's holy people

because of the hope which is stored up for you in heaven. News of this hope reached you not long ago through the word of truth, the gospel

that came to you in the same way as it is bearing fruit and growing throughout the world. It has had the same effect among you, ever since you heard about the grace of God and recognised it for what it truly is.

This you learnt from Epaphras, our very dear fellow-worker and a trustworthy deputy for us as Christ's servant,

and it was he who also told us all about your love in the Spirit.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul adds Timothy’s name to his greeting and thanks God “always” for the faith of the Christians of Colossae. He has heard of the community’s vitality, and he summarizes its life in terms of the three pillars that uphold it: faith, love, and hope. The first is “faith in Christ Jesus”, that is, the welcoming of Jesus as the true Good and the one Lord and Saviour. The second is love, the love that the disciple receives from Christ and that drives him or her to consider others as brothers and sisters, members of God’s one family, thus removing every barrier to Gospel love, so that it might become a leavening of unity for the entire world. For the apostle, hope is this final and complete unity. This final goal, which is already present in the Risen One, is what sustains their faith and drives them to keep their fraternal love alive. Through baptism, believers are immersed in the mystery of Christ, dead and risen, and already live “with Christ” (3:3). Believers are already where Christ is, even if they still have to wait for his full manifestation. But just as a seed already contains its entire future and is waiting for its complete fulfilment, so it is for a Christian who receives baptism. By citing the three pillars that uphold Christian life in his initial thanksgiving, Paul reveals his concern for a community that risks being contaminated by a false sense of security. He calls them back to the essential: their personal relationship with Christ and their fraternal communion. The apostle reiterates that this Gospel does not deceive but is trustworthy. And it is already bearing fruit. The apostle is not just thinking about the Colossians but also the communities that are being born in other regions of the Roman empire. Before his eyes, and so also before his joys and concerns, he sees the one Gospel taking flesh in many local communities and giving life to the one Church. Certainly, the spread of Christianity was still limited in the apostle’s time, but its universal dimension could already be seen clearly. Indeed, Jesus had compared the Kingdom of heaven to a grain of mustard, the smallest of seeds, which would become as big as a tree. But the community’s growth is only possible if it remains linked to the sap of the seed or the strength of the leavening. Paul and Timothy had heard from Epaphras, the founder of community of Colossae, that the work of the Holy Spirit (this is the only time it is mentioned in the Letter) is alive in the hearts of all. It is truly a community in good health, that is, a Church that continues to listen to the Gospel and put it into practice. In this sense, the connection they have to Epaphras also unites them with Paul and Timothy, creating the ecclesial fraternity that has the strength to change the world.