Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memorial of Saint Augustine of Canterbury (†605 ca.), bishop, father of the English church.

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

Sirach 36, 1-2.5-6.13-19

Take pity on us, Master, Lord of the universe, look at us, spread fear of yourself throughout all other nations.

Raise your hand against the foreign nations and let them see your might.

Send new portents, do fresh wonders, win glory for your hand and your right arm.

Rouse your fury, pour out your rage, destroy the opponent, annihilate the enemy.

Fill Zion with your praises and your sanctuary with your glory.

Vindicate those whom you created first, fulfil what has been prophesied in your name.

Give those who wait for you their reward, let your prophets be proved true.

Grant, Lord, the prayer of your servants, in the terms of Aaron's blessing on your people,

so that all the earth's inhabitants may acknowledge that you are the Lord, the everlasting God.

The stomach takes in all kinds of food, but some foods are better than others.

As the palate discerns the flavour of game, so a shrewd listener detects lying words.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The people of Israel are being oppressed by the Seleucids. This distressing condition is the background of this prayer. The people of Israel must regain their freedom. But it is not possible without God's intervention. All slavery is the result of the people straying from the Lord and his Law and relying only on their own strength. The people of Israel thought they could heal their wounds with the "medicine" of military and political triumphs, believing that their earthly power and military strength were enough to dominate other nations and so find their place in history. The people of Israel often try the path of assimilation with other nations, changing their way of life to more closely match the beliefs and behaviours of other peoples. But this is not the way be faithful to the Lord. The believer's path must flow from justice, not abandoning the good, and remembering the poor and the oppressed. This is the meaning of Sirach's heart-felt prayer, which asks God for the rebirth of his people. Scripture often describes God with language that makes him seem to reveal the power of His arm by striking fear into the neighbouring nations and even destroying them. But the light of Jesus' teaching, which even illuminates the pages of the Old Testament, never justifies the destruction of the other. The only intention is to reject the behaviours of the nations that do not believe in God. The nations do not fear or respect the God of Israel because they think their gods are stronger and they can defeat Israel. So they use force to bend justice and choose violence to crush the poor. But here is this prayer, which asks God to have pity on his people and make them an effective witness of his work. The people of Israel are reborn when they return to God. They will find a Father who takes care of his people in order to involve them in his loving plan for the world and all nations. The nation that the Lord desires is a nation of children sent to gather all the other nations of the earth so that they might rediscover the one God and Father. This is the universal vision that will appear in all of its clarity in the New Testament.