Memory of the Poor

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Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, bishop of Rome, who led the Church through difficult times

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 17, 1-6

He said to his disciples, 'Causes of falling are sure to come, but alas for the one through whom they occur!

It would be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones.

Keep watch on yourselves! 'If your brother does something wrong, rebuke him and, if he is sorry, forgive him.

And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, "I am sorry," you must forgive him.'

The apostles said to the Lord, 'Increase our faith.'

The Lord replied, 'If you had faith like a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, "Be uprooted and planted in the sea," and it would obey you.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus warns his disciples of creating scandal, that is, of being “a stumbling block.” He believes scandal to be so serious that, for the one who creates it, it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around the neck. Perhaps the first scandal to be avoided is to contradict the Gospel with one’s life. If our behaviour is far from and even contrary to the Gospel, we not only betray the Lord but we also become accomplices of the princes of this world in favour of a sad and violent life. Jesus reminds the disciples to be careful and not to demean the Gospel, not to betray it with their lives. He had already said, “If salt has lost its taste, it is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out.” Disciples are called to listen to the Gospel every day and put it into practice. Not to do so means to betray it and, above all, to make it easier for sin to be rooted in our life. Yes, failure to listen to the Gospel is not without consequences. In the life of a disciple, not to listen to the Gospel increases the influence that sin has in our lives to the point of making us accomplices. For this reason, he asks his disciples, “Be on your guard!” The apostle Paul, aware of this danger, warns the elders of Ephesus, saying, “Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock” (Acts 20:28). Vigilance over oneself, one’s behaviour, and one’s fidelity to the Gospel is the first task of every disciple and even more so of those who have pastoral responsibility. Jesus adds that being able to pardon is even part of the disciple’s wisdom. We all know how weak we are and how easy it is to fall into sin. Jesus purposely gives us the strength to pardon. The ability to pardon is not spontaneous. Indeed, pardon is really rare today. Unfortunately, vengeance has more room in everyday life. It is urgent that mercy and pardon flourish over the ease with which sin is affirmed. To pardon “seven times,” as Jesus asks, means to forgive always. Obviously, it is not a question of condescending to sin. Jesus always demands repentance for a fault committed and the consequent change of life. But the readiness to forgive must never be lacking. Mercy is the sign of God’s presence among people. Understanding that mercy does not originate from inside themselves, the disciples realize that the instinct to remain in hate or at least indifference is strong, even for them. And so they ask the Lord, “Increase our faith.” Jesus – perhaps surprising even us – answers that even a little faith, as small as that of a mustard seed, is enough. This little bit of faith, of trust in God, is capable of performing miracles. Let us ask the Lord for it, and we will be able to strip the bitter herbs from the hearts of people and cast them into the depths of the sea.