Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memorial of St. Benedict (†547), father of western monks and their guide through the rule that carries his name

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 10, 16-23

Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as snakes and yet innocent as doves.

'Be prepared for people to hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues.

You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them and to the gentiles.

But when you are handed over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes,

because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.

'Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will come forward against their parents and have them put to death.

You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved.

If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. In truth I tell you, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus announces to his apostles that they will be persecuted, as he was persecuted. Actually Gospel love, completely gratuitous and non-reciprocal, disturbs the work of the prince of this world, which is to bring about division and conflict. There is no room for those who work for peace by means of a love even of one’s own enemies. This is why Jesus says, “See, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves.” Sheep are always weaker than wolves, and always seem to be doomed to defeat. But this is the mystery of Jesus’ mission which he later confided to his Church and his disciples. It is not difficult to try to soften this weak attitude. Father Andrea Santoro, who was killed in Turkey, said, “The advantage for us as Christians – which we dare not miss - is to believe in a defenceless God, in a God who became a sacrificial lamb in order to kill self pride and hate, in a God who attracts with love and refuses to dominate with power, in a Christ who invites us to love our enemies, in a Gospel that forbids hatred, wrath, judging, that calls us to serve in order to be “masters” of the house, and to become the last in order to be the first. This is an advantage that we cannot lose. He then quoted John Chrysostom, “Christ tends lambs, not wolves. If we are lambs we will win, if we become wolves we will lose.” When life according to the Gospel is intense and vigorous, it is charged with a power which destabilises the world intent instead on seeking its own interests and remaining in sin. When Christians are humble and simple as “doves,” they confront, with their words and their behaviour, a selfish world and unmask it. Then from the attempt to eliminate the true witnesses of faith, persecution and suffering ensue. For us who live in the Third Millennium, we must learn from the Gospel to understand when it is no longer possible to compromise with a world intent on suffocating the Word of God by silencing those who witness to it. When faced with injustices such as the suffering of the weakest, the elimination of life, the wounds of a world disproportionately divided between many poor and a few rich, the disciple cannot remain silent, even when confronted by opposition, but must proclaim with his/her life that he/she is a child of God and not of this world. We are encouraged and consoled by the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”