Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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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

Numbers 13, 1-3.25-14,1.25-35

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said,

'Send out men, one from each tribe, to reconnoitre the land of Canaan which I am giving the Israelites. Each of them is to be a leading man of the tribe.'

At Yahweh's order, Moses sent them from the desert of Paran. All of them were leading men of Israel.

After forty days they returned from reconnoitring the country.

Making their way to Moses, Aaron and the whole community of Israel, in the desert of Paran, at Kadesh, they made their report to them and the whole community, and displayed the country's produce.

This was the report they gave: 'We made our way into the country where you sent us. It does indeed flow with milk and honey; here is what it produces.

At the same time, its inhabitants are a powerful people; the towns are fortified and very big; yes, and we saw the Anakim there.

The Amalekites occupy the Negeb area, the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites the highlands, and the Canaanites the sea coast and the banks of the Jordan.'

Caleb called the people round Moses to silence and then said, 'We must march in immediately and take it; we are certainly able to conquer it.'

But the men who had been with him said, 'We cannot attack these people; they are stronger than we are.'

And they began disparaging to the Israelites the country they had reconnoitred, saying, 'The country we have been to reconnoitre is a country that devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there were of enormous size.

We saw giants there too (the Anakim, descended from the Giants). We felt like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.'

The whole community then cried out in dismay, and the people wept all that night.

(the Amalekites and Canaanites occupy the plain). Tomorrow you will turn about and go back into the desert, in the direction of the Sea of Suph.'

Yahweh then spoke to Moses and Aaron and said:

'How much longer am I to endure this perverse community muttering against me? I have heard what the Israelites mutter against me.

Say to them, "As I live, Yahweh declares, I shall do to you what I have heard you saying.

In this desert your dead bodies will fall, all you who were counted in the census, from the age of twenty years and over who have muttered against me.

I swear none of you will enter the country where I swore most solemnly to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh, and Joshua son of Nun.

Your children, who you said would be seized as booty, will be the ones whom I shall bring in so that they get to know the country you disdained,

but, as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this desert

and your children will be nomads in the desert for forty years, bearing the consequences of your faithlessness, until the last one of you lies dead in the desert.

For forty days you reconnoitred the country. Each day will count as a year: for forty years you will bear the consequences of your guilt and learn what it means to reject me."

I, Yahweh, have spoken: this is how I swear to treat this entire perverse community united against me. In this desert, to the last man, they shall die.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Moses sends forth men, one for each tribe, to involve all the people so that everyone may know that the promised land is not a distant hope, it is not impossible, but that their hope is realized. It also means that we can all become witnesses of hope, and that this is not a distant dream, an empty optimism. This hope does not remain elusive, as that of the idols, a utopia that never finds realization. Every believer is called to be like these men telling all the people that the promised land is not a fantasy. They can describe it so that many may continue to look for it. It is a land flowing with milk and honey, where we may realize our deepest aspirations. Those who saw it can speak to the others with conviction, because they saw and they are able to transmit a hope that is no longer formless, but a certainty that must be realized. Such a hope does not convince anyone, because no one can be passionate about a hope without concreteness. This strengthens the determination of the others. We too are called, we who have seen many signs of God’s mercy in our lives, to be confident witnesses of the treasure we have found. Immediately, however, the fears reappear, the doubts in the face of difficulties, the uncertainty that Pope Francis would call that of “defeated Christians,” that is, Christians who are convinced that the problems are always bigger than them and that they cannot win. The men who had gone ahead did not think they would be able to fight against the people who lived there “for they are stronger than us.” Fear becomes resignation, doubt creeps in, makes problems become enormous, certifies our inability to do anything. Hope must always fight with fear. But hope is stronger than fear because it reveals fear’s deception and does not allow fear to win. Those, in the end, think of themselves as being alone, and forget that their true strength is never personal but is that which comes from God and from his presence among us. You are not orphans, Jesus says. “Behold, I am with you always.” Here is the quiet strength of the believer.