Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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The Jews celebrate the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost).

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Colossians 1, 24-29

It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church,

of which I was made a servant with the responsibility towards you that God gave to me, that of completing God's message,

the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his holy people.

It was God's purpose to reveal to them how rich is the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; it is Christ among you, your hope of glory:

this is the Christ we are proclaiming, admonishing and instructing everyone in all wisdom, to make everyone perfect in Christ.

And it is for this reason that I labour, striving with his energy which works in me mightily.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul, who is well aware of the link between love and the cross, writes to the Colossians about the happiness he feels at the suffering he is experiencing on their behalf. It is true: none of our pain is lost; no suffering is in vain, especially when it comes because of pastoral ministry: it is all gathered together in the cup of Christ’s suffering on the cross. Paul reveals the deep meaning that is hidden in the suffering of a disciple: it is the completion in his own flesh of what is lacking in Christ’s suffering. When the believer experiences his or her own limitations and so is made similar to Christ, he or she knows that, even in suffering, the power of the Risen One is at work. This is why even pain can be a source of happiness and serenity, because it can become an occasion for communion and grace: believers are in communion with each other in suffering and even in death. The apostle knows that he has to conform himself to Christ and that he has to suffer trials and hostility in order to bring the Gospel to women and men. Besides, he cannot refuse his obligation to preach the Gospel, because it is there that God reveals his plan of love for humanity. He received from God himself the mission “to make the word of God fully known.” With this last statement, Paul sheds light on what pastoral ministry means: to sow the Word of God in the hearts of believers so that we can grow according to the image of Christ. This is how we should understand what it means to be a “servant” of the Gospel. And Paul does not hesitate to call the Word of God a “mystery”: in it is present the very love of God revealed to his “saints” so that they may communicate it in turn to all of humanity. The task for the disciples of every age is, therefore, not just to communicate the happy proclamation of Christ in an abstract way, but to communicate the Gospel so that it touches the heart of those who listen and they convert. The pastor has the task of exhorting, teaching, and accompanying every believer so that he or she may know how to make the Word of God grow and bear fruit in his or her heart and grow towards perfection. It is hard labour, which Paul compares to a wearying struggle. But it is the only way for the seed to bear fruit. This is the true meaning of the Church’s pastoral mission in the world. Paul is right to insist on the universal scope of the Gospel: “everyone” is called to live in Christ, to find in him the meaning of his or her own life and so to reach perfection, that is, salvation.