Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memory of Lazarus of Bethany. Prayer for all those who are gravely ill and for the dying. Memory of those who have died of AIDS.

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

Genesis 49, 2.8-10

Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen; listen to Israel your father.

Judah, your brothers will praise you: you grip your enemies by the neck, your father's sons will do you homage.

Judah is a lion's whelp; You stand over your prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, a mighty lion: who dare rouse him?

The sceptre shall not pass from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute be brought him and the peoples render him obedience.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

At this time the Word of God is given to us day after day to enlighten our minds so that we understand more deeply the mystery of Christmas. These first verses of chapter 49 of the Book of Genesis, describe the scene of Jacob's dying surrounded by his children. The Patriarch, lying on his death bed, turns to his children with his last words as his father Isaac had earlier done. It is a solemn and holy scene. Jacob's words have the prophetic power of those who, perfecting themselves by long listening to the Word of God, are now its gushing spring. Jacob asks his twelve sons, progenitors of the tribes of the whole people of God, first of all to listen: “Listen to Israel, your father.” Jacob, who first had listened, asks his sons to continue listening. Listening, we might say, is the red thread that binds the generations of believers both from the Old and the New Testament. Believers transmit to each other the wisdom that comes from the Lord and that He, in His mercy, does not fail to give to his children through the Spirit. The Word of God, received with faith, is at the foundation of the history of believers. The words contained in this passage are those that Jacob said to Judah. He is exalted among his brothers with regal power, similar to that of the lion, and for the “sceptre” and the “ruler’s staff” that he will hold over the tribes of Israel and over all his enemies. The sacred author almost certainly alludes to the Davidic monarchy, in which the Lord placed the sceptre of His Anointed, the Messiah who will protect his people. And no one will be able to take the kingdom from him. By offering this passage while Christmas is approaching, the liturgy binds it to the full realization, the fulfilment of these words in the mystery of Christmas that we are going to celebrate. The “king” who leads his people and will rule over all nations is about to be born. The Book of Revelation links the image of the lion to Jesus in these words, “[the lion of the tribe of Judah] has conquered” (Rev 5:5). Gathered by the Word of God, we open our hearts to listen because what is written is going to become true for our salvation and that of the peoples. That note of universality that at the beginning covered the whole of Israel, with the Twelve Apostles is expanded to the whole world and extends love to the ends of the earth.