Memory of the Church

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Memorial of Saint John Damascene, priest and Doctor of the Church who lived in Damascus in the eighth century. Prayer for Christians in Syria.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Isaiah 26, 1-6

That day, this song will be sung in Judah: 'We have a fortress city, the walls and ramparts provide safety.

Open the gates! Let the upright nation come in, the nation that keeps faith!

This is the plan decreed: you will guarantee peace, the peace entrusted to you.

Trust in Yahweh for ever, for Yahweh is a rock for ever.

He has brought low the dwellers on the heights, the lofty citadel; he lays it low, brings it to the ground, flings it down in the dust.

It will be trodden under foot, by the feet of the needy, the steps of the weak.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage is a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. There are two reasons for this joy and gratitude. On the one hand, the believers are rejoicing at the destruction of the “lofty city,” Babylon, a symbol of the pride and arrogance of the powerful who crush the weak and the poor, and on the other hand, they rejoice at the construction of a “strong city,” Jerusalem, which welcomes the people who have been faithful to the Lord. The city built by God has solid, impregnable walls. But the song urges believers to trust in God alone. He is the true rock in which we should place our trust: “Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.” The prophet warns believers that they should be careful about where they place their hope. They should not place their hope on the strength of their walls. Sometimes believers forget this. Sometimes their hearts get twisted, and they rely on walls. They start to think of them as a way to defend their own well-being or even their selfishness. It is easy to build a barrier that pushes our brothers and sisters away and keeps out the poor and weak. So the prophet invites us to keep the doors of our city open always, not to remain closed in our sense of security, but to be open to the world at all times, especially to the poor. This biblical call for the door to remain open -- that believers can go out and also that everyone in need can find a way into the city -- is echoed in the insistent call of Pope Francis for Christians to go out towards all. The city becomes the place where the just and the poor live together, two peoples united and inseparable. Believers and the poor live in this city together, a city which certainly comes from heaven but which has already begun on earth. Any separation that occurs inside of it has disastrous consequences. The prophet writes that the Lord, “has brought low the inhabitants of the height; the lofty city he lays low. He lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.” Distance from the poor is distance from God. The image of a city brought down and cast in the dust is harsh but true. It is essential for us to welcome God's revolution, as it happens through Jesus. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, sings of the reversal of the world's logic: “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1: 51-52).