Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memory of Saint Francis Xavier, a sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary in India and Japan.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Isaiah 25, 6-10

On this mountain, for all peoples, Yahweh Sabaoth is preparing a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of succulent food, of well-strained wines.

On this mountain, he has destroyed the veil which used to veil all peoples, the pall enveloping all nations;

he has destroyed death for ever. Lord Yahweh has wiped away the tears from every cheek; he has taken his people's shame away everywhere on earth, for Yahweh has spoken.

And on that day, it will be said, 'Look, this is our God, in him we put our hope that he should save us, this is Yahweh, we put our hope in him. Let us exult and rejoice since he has saved us.'

For Yahweh's hand will rest on this mountain, and Moab will be trodden under his feet as straw is trodden into the dung-heap.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the first image of the feast of God's kingdom presented in the Bible. It is the joyful proclamation to an oppressed people who can finally sing in victory over suffering and death. The season of Advent gives us a taste of this universal feast, in which the Lord wants to satisfy the hunger of all nations. Of course, this is not just the hunger for bread, but the hunger for a full, beautiful life, lived in peace with all. Unfortunately, it is common today for people to think that salvation can be found in personal well-being and the tranquillity of their own lives. This passage from the Bible shows us that salvation is the opposite of the narcissistic instinct that keeps us from seeing others. Today the prophet tells us that the Lord himself will tear away the veil that closes us in on ourselves, in our little world, in our narrow, selfish horizons. No, salvation is for all people. There is no salvation only for some, not even for some group that thinks it is perfect. No, the Lord is preparing a feast for all peoples. He prepares it with his own hands, so that all can experience the fullness of communion with him and with all people. It is an image that uproots the egocentric instincts that lie in us all. Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a dinner (Lk 14:15-24), to which God calls “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” Only the rich, that is, those who are satisfied with themselves and caught up in their own affairs, refuse the invitation. The feast is for everyone.
But it does not only come at the end of time. It has already begun. It begins every time we form bonds of friendship and affection; every time we come out of ourselves and meet someone new. We could say that it is a feast that has already started and is constantly being prepared. The Lord is already at work. The prophet even adds that God is eliminating death forever. The disciples of Jesus can sing -- along with the apostle -- in victory over death: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15: 55-57). The image of the Lord walking among the guests at the feast, drying their tears, is beautiful. It is full of tenderness. How can we not see in it an invitation to all believers to rediscover the ministry of consoling those who are afflicted and in need of consolation and comfort in a world that is often cruel and pitiless? That is how we can receive Jesus' beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).