Memory of the Poor

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Memorial of the first martyrs of the Roman Church during persecution of Nero

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

Matthew 8, 18-22

When Jesus saw the crowd all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side.

One of the scribes then came up and said to him, 'Master, I will follow you wherever you go.'

Jesus said, 'Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.'

Another man, one of the disciples, said to him, 'Lord, let me go and bury my father first.'

But Jesus said, 'Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We often read in the Gospel that people flock to Jesus bringing the poor, the sick, and the possessed so that he will heal them. How many evenings in Capernaum became the dawn of a new life for so many sick people! Jesus welcomes the people, looks on the crowd with compassion, and distinguishes each person’s story. But Jesus did not stay on one shore; he also wanted to go to the other side of the lake, as if to underline the fact that no one should be left without the Gospel, without a word of salvation. Jesus lets himself be approached by our humanity, in order to change it. He is a true teacher, a friend who helps us to be different precisely because he loves us. We often want to reduce Jesus to one of the many experiences that are supposed to ensure our well-being. A scribe approaches, respectfully addresses him with the title of “teacher,” and reveals his readiness to follow him. Perhaps he is thinking that it will be enough to spend some time around him, learn a few things, and so belong to a group, with all the advantages that brings, in terms of safety and security. In short, he would not have been alone, and he would belong to a respectable group. This scribe seems to be like the seed that falls where there is no soil, that is, where there is no heart. Without roots the seed is quickly scorched by the sun of adversity and is lost, becoming just another illusion. Jesus wants the seed to bear fruit, because without it, our lives remain barren. Jesus immediately responds and says that following him means living like him, that is, having neither a house nor a place to rest one’s head, because our entire life should be spent for others. Jesus did not come to earth to offer guarantees or security for himself or his followers. The urgency of communicating the Gospel to everyone devours him. A Christian is not generated as a son or daughter of God in order to close him or herself in a small, safe universe, but to go to the ends of the earth. A Christian is always a missionary, a person who goes out of him or herself to find his or her salvation. Even when the disciple has a place to live, as is the case for most of us, he or she is still called to develop and cultivate passion and interest for the world and for the needs of the Church spread over all earth. Jesus’ response to the disciple who asks to first go and bury his father before following him is equally radical. Jesus’ answer is paradoxical. He is not cold and heartless. It is not a question of harsh behaviour; it is a question of making a decisive choice for the Lord. Without leaving everything we do not understand the love of the Lord. And it is only for love that we can leave everything.