Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Exodus 32, 15-24.30-34

Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on both sides, inscribed on the front and on the back.

The tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God's writing, engraved on the tablets.

When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, 'There is the sound of battle in the camp!'

But he replied: No song of victory is this sound, no lament for defeat this sound; but answering choruses I hear!

And there, as he approached the camp, he saw the calf and the groups dancing. Moses blazed with anger. He threw down the tablets he was holding, shattering them at the foot of the mountain.

He seized the calf they had made and burned it, grinding it into powder which he scattered on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.

Moses then said to Aaron, 'What have these people done to you for you to have brought so great a sin on them?'

Aaron replied, 'My lord should not be so angry. You yourself know what a bad state these people are in!

They said to me, "Make us a god to go at our head; for that Moses, the man who brought us here from Egypt -- we do not know what has become of him."

I then said to them, "Anyone with gold, strip it off!" They gave it to me. I threw it into the fire and out came this calf!'

On the following day Moses said to the people, 'You have committed a great sin. But now I shall go up to Yahweh: perhaps I can secure expiation for your sin.'

Moses then went back to Yahweh and said, 'Oh, this people has committed a great sin by making themselves a god of gold.

And yet, if it pleased you to forgive their sin. . .! If not, please blot me out of the book you have written!'

Yahweh said to Moses, 'Those who have sinned against me are the ones I shall blot out of my book.

So now go and lead the people to the place I promised to you. My angel will indeed go at your head but, on the day of punishment, I shall punish them for their sin.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

God’s wrath on account of Israel’s sin is communicated to Moses. In this sense, the prophet can feel God’s own feelings. How can he give the law of life that he received on Mount Sinai to the people? The Lord speaks and people do not listen, seeking instead an idol like security. Those tablets, words that should have stayed carved in the heart, are shattered by the unbelief and the hardness of heart of the Israelites. Moses does not compromise with his people’s unbelief. Moses finds an intercessor, Aaron, who was not innocent regarding Israel’s betrayal. Aaron finds words of repentance when he recognizes his sin, the subtle temptation to placate fear, the search for security at all costs, and pragmatic disbelief. There is a kind of solidarity in evil, which often envelops believers and can even reach an entire population, like Israel in the desert. It sometimes becomes so convincing that people are willing to pay gold just to have an idol to make them feel secure. Idols steal the heart and seize the trust of men and women. This is why we always need someone like Moses and the word of God to help us understand our complicity with evil. Another form of solidarity is born from intercession and prayer, as Moses and Aaron demonstrate. Jesus himself will urge his listeners to agree when they pray, assuring them that they will obtain what they seek: “If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Mt 18:19- 20) This is the power of the prayer of every community when it gathers, even if it is as small as two or three people, as long as it gathers in the name of the Lord.