Memory of the Mother of the Lord

Share On

Memorial of Pope Saint Calixtus (†222). He was a friend to the poor and founded the house of prayer on which later would be built the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere

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

Luke 11, 37-41

He had just finished speaking when a Pharisee invited him to dine at his house. He went in and sat down at table.

The Pharisee saw this and was surprised that he had not first washed before the meal.

But the Lord said to him, 'You Pharisees! You clean the outside of cup and plate, while inside yourselves you are filled with extortion and wickedness.

Fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside too?

Instead, give alms from what you have and, look, everything will be clean for you.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus, having been invited to the house of a Pharisee, does not perform the necessary rituals before eating. This behaviour earns him severe judgment. Noticing this, Jesus responds by moving the question from the ritual level to the level of the heart. And he clarifies that appearances are not what count in life, whether correct or not; what counts is being a woman or a man with a merciful heart. In a society based on appearances, such as ours, this brief Gospel passage refocuses our attention on what is truly important in life. It is in the heart, on the inside, that a person’s life, happiness, and salvation are played out. If our heart is full of wickedness, then our actions will be wicked too. And so, without condemning the observance of rituals, Jesus wants to re-emphasize the heart as the root of behaviour. What counts is what is in the heart, not what appears on the outside. Observing rituals has no value if afterwards we offend justice and distance ourselves from love. It is useless to multiply gestures and actions if our heart is full of “greed and wickedness.” Jesus urges his listeners to “give for alms those things that are within,” that is, to give the world the love that has been poured into our hearts. True wealth is the freely-given love that every believer receives from God in his or her heart. As he sends his disciples to preach, he clearly states, “You received without payment; give without payment” (Matthew 10:8). The freely-given gift of love that we have received can most clearly be seen when we care first of all about the poor. Yes, love for the poor is the guarantee of our love. With Jesus the time of mercy has begun, the time of grace and abundance. If we are merciful towards others and if we are generous in loving others, not only does our love not diminish, but the hearts of those who give and those who receive are made richer. The wealth of a disciple is not found in the multiplication of rituals he or she practices, but in having a merciful heart that is ready to love. Jesus’ statement is important: giving alms makes us pure. Unfortunately it is ever more frequent today to see ordinances which prohibit begging and discourage almsgiving and, sadly, are sometimes even supported by Christians. The whole biblical tradition, which reaches its climax in the Gospel, urges Christians to give alms, not because it is the “solution” to social problems, but because it is the first step towards love: giving alms forces us to turn our gaze from ourselves towards the needy and to give them something, even if just a little. Woe to those who would stop a heart from taking this first step beyond itself. If we do that, we will remain trapped in our selfishness.