Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Numbers 12, 1-13

Miriam, and Aaron too, criticised Moses over the Cushite woman he had married. He had indeed married a Cushite woman.

They said, 'Is Moses the only one through whom Yahweh has spoken? Has he not spoken through us too?' Yahweh heard this.

Now Moses was extremely humble, the humblest man on earth.

Suddenly Yahweh said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, 'Come out, all three of you, to the Tent of Meeting.' They went, all three of them,

and Yahweh descended in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tent. He called Aaron and Miriam and they both came forward.

Yahweh said: Listen to my words! if there is a prophet among you, I reveal myself to him in a vision, I speak to him in a dream.

Not so with my servant Moses; to him my whole household is entrusted;

to him I speak face to face, plainly and not in riddles, and he sees Yahweh's form. How, then, could you dare to criticise my servant Moses?

Yahweh's anger was aroused by them. He went away,

and as soon as the cloud left the Tent, there was Miriam covered with a virulent skin-disease, white as snow! Aaron turned to look at her and saw that she had contracted a virulent skin-disease.

Aaron said to Moses: 'Oh, my Lord, please do not punish us for the sin we have been foolish enough to commit.

Do not let her be like some monster with its flesh half eaten away when it leaves its mother's womb!'

Moses pleaded with Yahweh. 'O God,' he said, 'I beg you, please heal her!'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Moses is criticized even by Aaron. The reason seems to be the Ethiopian woman, a foreigner he had married. The temptation of the people of Israel was to judge everything based on their own experience, to believe true only what they were able to understand, reducing everything to their own vision and tradition. God is always larger than our heart. The Lord does not accept murmuring, divisions, small or large though they may be. He wants to lead everyone to a life that is beautiful and full, that is free from complaint, quarrels, coldness, which accompany life together and prevent dialogue. Their murmurings weaken the people, as they always do, make divisions grow, and generate suspicion. They separate brothers, exposing everyone to the force of evil. Moses was very meek, meeker than all men on earth. He is a humble man, says the book of Numbers, and this is his strength. He does not answer but he lets God intervene to defend him. He is a brave man, but remains humble because he knows that everything is the fruit of the love of God. When we are not humble our own self, our ego, makes us think that we are strong alone, we respond to evil with evil, so we allow the seeds of division to grow. Moses, the greatest one, who leads the people from slavery to the freedom of the promised land, remains humble. The less we listen to God the more our pride grows. God asks all three to go to the tent of the meeting and scolds Aaron and Miriam because they have not been afraid to speak against his servant. The wrath of God is a strong feeling, as was the anger of Jesus in the temple occupied by the merchants; it is not punishment but a manifestation of his passion. Understanding it helps us to evaluate the consequences of our actions, which cause pain in the heart of God. When he goes away, when we lose him because of our presumptive cleverness, the heart becomes sick, as happens to Miriam, and life is lost. Aaron finally realizes the consequences of sin and asks to be healed. Moses himself intercedes for Miriam and Aaron. He is truly humble. He puts everything in God’s hands and does not judge his brother.