Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memorial of Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death, brought to Rome where he died a martyr (†107)

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

Luke 12, 1-7

Meanwhile the people had gathered in their thousands so that they were treading on one another. And he began to speak, first of all to his disciples. 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees -- their hypocrisy.

Everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.

For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed from the housetops.

'To you my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.

I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, he is the one to fear.

Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God's sight.

Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than many sparrows.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In today’s passage, we see how thousands of people flocked and crowded around Jesus, so “that they trampled on one another.” They were men and women needing comfort and looking for a better life. At last, they have found a person in whom they can confide, trust and hope. The true shepherd had come, and they were almost instinctively drawn to him. Jesus welcomed all of them with mercy; he did not send any of them away. He had something to say to everyone. He is an extraordinary example for all of us. Jesus immediately put the surrounding crowd on guard from false shepherds or even more from the hypocrisy of the Pharisees that made their guide insupportable and dangerous. The religiosity of the Pharisees was full of exteriority; it did not engage their hearts and was therefore merciless and with no compassion for the exhausted and tired crowds. It was enough for the Pharisees to simply repeat the principles of the Law in cold and abstract terms. Like a bad yeast, such religiosity contaminated the entire life of people. Yet Jesus said that the moment would come in which all would be brought to light and in which all the emptiness and sadness of those who built up their own existence with a loveless and merciless heart showing only pride and self-love would eventually be seen. He says, however, something different to the disciples who hear and follow the true shepherd and master: “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more... fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.” Here Jesus introduces a very important distinction. The body can die but there is an “afterwards” on which the disciple is called upon to reflect. Jesus suggests that the “afterwards” is connected to the “heart”, that is to the interior life, the “place’ where we encounter God—or and it would be a tragic choice—where we meet the one who can “cast into hell.” There is no scorn for the body in Jesus’ words; for indeed how many healings he did! Yet there’s no doubt that the kind of care that we give to transforming and converting our hearts is very little in comparison to the care we give to our bodies and our material well-being. At times, we will even sell our soul for the benefit of our external well-being. Jesus reminds us that the Father in heaven takes care of us better than the sparrows and knows every hair on our head. Let us take care of our heart and of making it grow in love. It is an urgency all Christians need to live not only for their own salvation but as a precious witness to show forth in a world that puts the individual and material well-being over everything else. Our world needs to see the Gospel witness of Jesus’ disciples in order to fight against the power of evil and violence.