Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memory of St. John Chrysostom (“golden mouth”), bishop and doctor of the Church (349-407). The most common liturgy of the Byzantine Church takes its name from him. The Jews celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Expiation).

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 31, 23-40

Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, 'In the country of Judah and in its towns, they will use these words once more, when I bring their captives home: "Yahweh bless you, home of saving justice, holy mountain!"

'And in this country, Judah and all its towns, the ploughmen and those who wander with their flocks, will live together,

for I shall give the weary all they need and satisfy all those whose strength has gone.'

At this, I awoke and saw that my sleep had been sweet to me.

'Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall sow the House of Israel and the House of Judah with the seed both of people and of cattle.

And as I once watched over them to uproot, to knock down, to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so now I shall watch over them to build and to plant, Yahweh declares.

'In those days people will no longer say: "The fathers have eaten unripe grapes; the children's teeth are set on edge."

But each will die for his own guilt. Everyone who eats unripe grapes will have his own teeth set on edge.

'Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah),

but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, even though I was their Master, Yahweh declares.

No, this is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel when those days have come, Yahweh declares. Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people.

There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbour or brother, saying, "Learn to know Yahweh!" No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind.'

Yahweh who provides the sun to shine by day, who regulates moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs the sea, making its waves roar, he whose name is Yahweh Sabaoth, says this,

'Were this established order ever to pass away before me, Yahweh declares, then the race of Israel would also cease being a nation for ever before me!'

Yahweh says this, 'Were the heavens above ever to be measured, the foundations of the earth below ever to be fathomed, then I too would reject the whole race of Israel for all that they have done, Yahweh declares.'

'Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when the City will be rebuilt for Yahweh, from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.

Then once again the measuring line will stretch straight to the Hill of Gareb, turning then to Goah.

And the whole valley, with its corpses and ashes, and all the ground beside the ravine of the Kidron as far as the corner of the Horse Gate, eastwards, will be consecrated to Yahweh. It will never be destroyed or demolished again.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah began his prophetic work because God called him to that mission. The Lord made him the messenger of the deportation of the people to Babylon, a calamity that had to be understood in light of God’s plans and not according to human logic. It was a difficult mission, as every prophet’s is. And yet it was indispensable. Prophets - indeed, all believers - are called by God not to think about their own future or their own personal achievements but “to build and to plant” (1:10) a new people. Now the time to rebuild has come (31:28). The book of Ecclesiastes wisely warns that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1). The prophet knows that the farmers will return to work the fields and that the flocks will graze peacefully. But the prophetic words focus in particular on a key event in the lives of nations, “a new covenant” (v. 31). The Lord returns to the covenant made in the desert with renewed commitment, the covenant made with the people’s ancestors, in order to strengthen it and make it a sign for all nations of the bond between God and his creation. The ‘previous covenant was broken by the people’s infidelity. This time, the commandment of love will not be an external rule, engraved on the tablets of the law, but a word carved into the heart, not written in stone but sealed in flesh. It is a commitment to an inner covenant, which extends to all believers and all the people. Only by renewing our interior life can we defeat the temptation to remain closed in on ourselves, losing sight of the utopia of a new world that the Lord, through his people, wants to create for all nations. The new covenant is not a new set of rules and precepts. It is a deep bond of love between God and his people that exists in order to make God’s dream for the world come true. The dream is encapsulated in the double commandment of love that Jesus came to fulfil with the new and everlasting covenant. He will say to his friends, “On these two commandments [love of God and love of neighbour] hang all the law and the prophets” (Mt 22:40). The disciples, “from the least of them to the greatest” (v. 34), are called to build the civilization of love, the new covenant that does not exclude anyone and that embraces all of humanity, starting with the poorest.