Memory of the Church

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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

Luke 7, 24-30

When John's messengers had gone he began to talk to the people about John,

'What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No! Then what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Look, those who go in magnificent clothes and live luxuriously are to be found at royal courts!

Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet:

he is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you to prepare your way before you.

'I tell you, of all the children born to women, there is no one greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.'

All the people who heard him, and the tax collectors too, acknowledged God's saving justice by accepting baptism from John;

but by refusing baptism from him the Pharisees and the lawyers thwarted God's plan for them.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday we heard in Luke’s Gospel Jesus’ response to John’s disciples who had asked if he was the Messiah or if they should wait for another. After his reply, these disciples returned to tell John, who was in prison, what Jesus had said. As they go away, Jesus turns to the crowd to sing the praise of this special prophet who was his same age. He recalls John’s extraordinary preaching. Jesus himself was fascinated by him so that he went to the Jordan River to John right at the beginning of his public life. On the shore of the Jordan, a place where tradition said that the palingenesis of the world would occur, John admonished everyone to distance himself or herself from a superficial lifestyle; to refrain from a life lived at the mercy of what is in fashion and from false and deceitful myths. The austere prophet exhorted people to enter into themselves, to do penance, to chose for justice, and to seek the Lord. His preaching was not far from that of the ancient prophets of Israel. This was already a great thing. But John –says Jesus - was more than a prophet: he was sent by God to prepare the way for the Messiah. This is his true greatness: to prepare the hearts of men and women of that time to receive the Messiah, the Saviour. In this sense, in spiritual vision of history, every disciple of Jesus and every Christian community should have the same mission of the Baptist: that is to prepare the hearts to welcome the Saviour. The disciple of Jesus, in fact, does not live in order to talk about himself or his deeds and undertakings, nor to affirm his own ideas or his own convictions. A disciple’s entire life, words and deeds are to prepare the way to the Lord, so that Jesus may enter the hearts of people, God’s mercy may reach the hearts of all those to which he was sent. The Christian, the Church, functions so that the Word of God touches the hearts of men and women and moves them in such a way so that they are disposed to meet Jesus and follow him. It is the mission to which every Christian generation is called until the ends of the earth. Yes, every disciple and every Christian community in any time are asked to continue to point out Jesus to the men and women of their time and to say, “Behold the lamb of God.” And it needs to be done with words and with the witness of a life, just as John did.