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

Jeremiah 22, 1-12

Yahweh said this, 'Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and there say this word,

"Listen to the word of Yahweh, king of Judah now occupying the throne of David, you, your officials and your people who go through these gates.

Yahweh says this: Act uprightly and justly; rescue from the hands of the oppressor anyone who has been wronged, do not exploit or ill-treat the stranger, the orphan, the widow; shed no innocent blood in this place.

For if you are scrupulous in obeying this command, then kings occupying the throne of David will continue to make their entry through the gates of this palace riding in chariots or on horseback, they, their officials and their people.

But if you do not listen to these words, then I swear by myself, Yahweh declares, this palace shall become a ruin!

"Yes, this is what Yahweh says about the palace of the king of Judah: You are like Gilead to me, like a peak of Lebanon. All the same, I will reduce you to a desert, to uninhabited towns.

I dedicate men to destroy you, each man with his weapons; they will cut down your finest cedars and throw them on the fire.

"And when many nations pass this city, they will say to one another: Why has Yahweh treated this great city like this?

And the answer will be: Because they abandoned the covenant of Yahweh their God to worship other gods and serve them." '

Do not weep for the man who is dead, do not raise the dirge for him. Weep rather for the one who has gone away, since he will never come back, never see his native land again.

For this is what Yahweh has said about Shallum son of Josiah, king of Judah, who succeeded Josiah his father and was forced to leave this place, 'He will never come back to it

but will die in the place to which he has been taken captive; and he will never see this country again.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

From the words of the prophets emerges a constant invitation to the king, the judges, and all those who exercise power to practice justice, especially towards the poor. The story of Naboth’s vineyard, where the prophet Elijah accuses Ahab of a great injustice, is one example among many (1 K 21). There is sometimes real conflict between the prophet and the king about justice for the poor. In the ancient Near East one of the main responsibilities of the king was to defend the rights of the weakest members of society, although this was rarely carried out. This had already been proclaimed in the great legal code, such as Hammurabi’s. This explains why the prophets insist on defending the oppressed. Jeremiah is no exception. The foreigner, the orphan, and the widow are considered to be among the poorest people, because they had no land and were completely dependent on the hospitality and generosity of others. The Bible is often concerned with their frail condition. Laws were already established to defend them in the book of Exodus (22:20-21): “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien...You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.” The king’s house should be a place where the rights of the poor are defended. It is not just a mater of giving something to the poor; the poor have rights that must be respected. Because of their condition, the poor have a right to special care, and everyone, starting with the king, is bound to respect it. In every society the protection of the rights of the poor and the weak is not only a sign of civility, it is what guarantees a peaceful coexistence. For Christians, the defence of the poor is not just a matter of the justice we cannot refuse, nor is it something optional that we can leave to the professionals. It is an essential part of our faith life and the heart of our encounter with Jesus, who identified himself with the poor, as is written in Matthew 25: “Just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”