Memory of the Church

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Memorial of Saint Anthony of the caves of Kiev (†1073). Father of Russian monasticism, with Saint Theodosius he is considered the founder of the Monastery of the Caves.

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

Exodus 19, 1-2.9-11.16-20

Three months to the day after leaving Egypt, the Israelites reached the desert of Sinai.

Setting out from Rephidim, they reached the desert of Sinai and pitched camp in the desert; there, facing the mountain, Israel pitched camp.

Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Look, I shall come to you in a dense cloud so that the people will hear when I speak to you and believe you ever after.' Moses then told Yahweh what the people had said.

Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Go to the people and tell them to sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. They must wash their clothes

and be ready for the day after tomorrow; for the day after tomorrow, in the sight of all the people, Yahweh will descend on Mount Sinai.

Now at daybreak two days later, there were peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, dense cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast; and, in the camp, all the people trembled.

Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the bottom of the mountain.

Mount Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because Yahweh had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke rose like smoke from a furnace and the whole mountain shook violently.

Louder and louder grew the trumpeting. Moses spoke, and God answered him in the thunder.

Yahweh descended on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain, and Yahweh called Moses to the top of the mountain; and Moses went up.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

From chapter 19 of the book of Exodus until chapter 10 of the book of Numbers, the people of Israel are camped at Sinai, where the defining event of their history takes place: the covenant with the Lord who freed them from Egypt and gives them the tablets of the Law. This passage presents a series of themes: the determination of the unique role of Moses, who is established as the mediator between God and the people, the preparation of the people, and the manifestation of the Lord. In describing this unprecedented event, the sacred author draws attention to the feelings of fear created among the Israelites by the divine apparition. The bond between God and his people is established by his word. The word has always characterized the relationship between God and humanity ever since creation (see Genesis 1), and now it is absolutely fundamental in the covenant that is about to be defined. God speaks; His word is transmitted to Israel by Moses, who in turn reports the people’s response to God. Moses’s mediation is essential. He is transmitting a word that needs someone to hear and communicate it, because otherwise it remains indeterminate, like an empty sound. But beyond the word there is also seeing, even if this seeing is somewhat paradoxical. The people of Israel witness an impressive manifestation of natural phenomena, but in reality they do not see God. In reality, what is clear is the fact that God is inaccessible. He is the Holy One, that is, the one who is separate. However, there are signs of his presence, his action, and his power to change. His face remains inaccessible, but it is not distant or foreign. God makes himself present among men and women through his word and the signs that point to his presence. There will come a day when he will come to earth in person, through the Word that becomes flesh, Jesus.