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

Hebrews 12, 18-29

What you have come to is nothing known to the senses: not a blazing fire, or gloom or total darkness, or a storm;

or trumpet-blast or the sound of a voice speaking which made everyone that heard it beg that no more should be said to them.

They could not bear the order that was given: If even a beast touches the mountain, it must be stoned.

The whole scene was so terrible that Moses said, 'I am afraid and trembling.'

But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival,

with the whole Church of first-born sons, enrolled as citizens of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and to the spirits of the upright who have been made perfect;

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to purifying blood which pleads more insistently than Abel's.

Make sure that you never refuse to listen when he speaks. If the people who on earth refused to listen to a warning could not escape their punishment, how shall we possibly escape if we turn away from a voice that warns us from heaven?

That time his voice made the earth shake, but now he has given us this promise: I am going to shake the earth once more and not only the earth but heaven as well.

The words once more indicate the removal of what is shaken, since these are created things, so that what is not shaken remains.

We have been given possession of an unshakeable kingdom. Let us therefore be grateful and use our gratitude to worship God in the way that pleases him, in reverence and fear.

For our God is a consuming fire.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Letter warns Christians who are endangering their faith that their condemnation will be graver than that which befell the unfaithful Israelites in the desert. The latter, having received a revelation more fearful than the highest and serenest received by Christians, are mostly excused. The revelation of Sinai, coming through shocking phenomena such as fire, clouds, earthquake, sound of trumpets, was a terrifying spectacle, so much so that Moses himself said, “I tremble with fear” (12:21). The author deliberately describes the revelation on Sinai in strong and hard terms. He does not even mention God, and fails to mention the moral loftiness of the Decalogue. Much less does he talk about the closeness with God which Moses was able to enjoy. The writer wants to underline the difference between Christian revelation and that from Mount Zion; he describes it in a totally different manner: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, … and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (12:22-23). In this festive and peaceful scenario, the new covenant is realized through a voice which comes from heaven: it is the voice of God who, in the last judgment, will shake heaven and earth, to make way for the “unshakable” kingdom, which replaces and succeeds the visible creation, now collapsed (12:27). Believers must be careful therefore not to “refuse the one who is speaking.” Much more bitter than the condemnation of the Israelites will be theirs. Although the new covenant has not yet been fully realized, it is already present: “we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe” (12:28). In the Holy Liturgy the Kingdom which we await on the day of final judgment is rendered already present. It is what those who “approach in faith” live. On the contrary, for the one who “walks away” a definitive sentence is prepared. For believers the great eschatological transformation is already accomplished. And we need to be careful not to turn back to look at things that are passing for then we also risk passing with things that are passing.