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

Judges 6, 11-24a

The Angel of Yahweh came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah which belonged to Joash of Abiezer. Gideon his son was threshing wheat inside the wine-press, to keep it hidden from Midian,

and the Angel of Yahweh appeared to him and said, 'Yahweh is with you, valiant warrior!'

Gideon replied, 'Excuse me, my lord, but if Yahweh is with us, why is all this happening to us? And where are all his miracles which our ancestors used to tell us about when they said, "Did not Yahweh bring us out of Egypt?" But now Yahweh has deserted us; he has abandoned us to Midian.'

At this, Yahweh turned to him and said, 'Go in this strength of yours, and you will rescue Israel from the power of Midian. Am I not sending you myself?'

Gideon replied, 'Forgive me, my lord, but how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least important of my father's family.'

Yahweh replied, 'I shall be with you and you will crush Midian as though it were one man.'

Gideon said, 'If I have found favour in your sight, give me a sign that you are speaking to me.

Please do not go away from here until I come back to you, bringing you my offering and laying it before you.' And he replied, 'I shall stay until you come back.'

Gideon went away, he prepared a young goat and from an ephah of flour he made unleavened cakes. He put the meat into a basket and the broth into a pot, then brought it all to him under the terebinth. As he approached,

the Angel of Yahweh said to him, 'Take the meat and unleavened cakes, put them on this rock and pour the broth over them.' Gideon did so.

The Angel of Yahweh then stretched out the tip of the staff which he was carrying, and touched the meat and unleavened cakes. Fire sprang from the rock and consumed the meat and unleavened cakes, and the Angel of Yahweh vanished before his eyes.

Gideon then knew that this was the Angel of Yahweh, and he said, 'Alas, my Lord Yahweh! Now I have seen the Angel of Yahweh face to face!'

Yahweh answered, 'Peace be with you; have no fear; you will not die.'

Gideon built an altar there to Yahweh and called it Yahweh-Peace. This altar stands in our own day at Ophrah of Abiezer.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The story of Deborah, the prophetess and judge, immediately precedes the cycle of Gideon, which takes up three chapters. The story opens by recounting the slavery under the yoke of the Midianites who force the Israelites to work for them. At the end of the work, in fact, they seize their entire crop. Gideon, however, tries to trick them by keeping the harvest. Meanwhile Israel did not cease to pray to the Lord that they may once again be freed from slavery. The Lord sees the suffering of his people, he hears their prayer and decides to intervene. The Lord then reveals himself to Gideon while he is working. Encounters with God do not take place outside our lives or personal histories. God presents himself in the guise of an angel who speaks directly to Gideon, as he did with Abraham and Moses. The Lord reveals himself always as a word. Scripture never describes God’s shape because the first thing he shows of himself is His word. Even to Gideon the first encounter is with a word. The first words - as it usually happens - are a greeting: “The Lord is with you.” Gideon’s response to this greeting is plural: “But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?” For Gideon it was clear that the call of the Lord is never individual, it is for all the people which he represents at that moment. Gideon is not worried for himself or for his personal future, but for the entire people of Israel. His answer is also a cry, a lament and a question. We could also ask ourselves: if it is true that God loves us, that he prefers the poor, then why is there so much injustice, pain and misery? How many times this question has come to our lips. Truly, God hears and answers, although in a different way from what we want. And anyway he does not waste time offering theoretical explanations. The Lord responds by choosing the same Gideon and sending him to win the same evil he complains about, “Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian.” Gideon is scared by this answer. How can he, the youngest of a family among the poorest, fight an enemy as powerful as the Midianites? He argues: “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Maybe in the answer of Gideon there is the fear and laziness for a task that appears impossible. But nothing is impossible with God. The Lord has different criteria than the human ones: he chooses what the world despises - and often believers have the same idea - to win over the powerful. It is a kind of law that fills the entire Bible. The strength of Gideon is in the Lord himself: “I will be with you, and you shall strike down the Midianites.” Gideon began to these words seriously. But he still wants to continue the dialogue with God to be sure that he is the one talking to him. We could say he wants to “see” God with his own eyes. And he “sees” in the context of hospitality. Gideon, as a liturgical gesture, offers his guest some food, but it is the same guest who touches it and makes it holy. And then the angel of the Lord vanished from his eyes. It looks like an anticipation of the meeting of Emmaus. From the very beginning of the history of salvation, hospitality and welcome appear as the place of encounter with God. Jesus says, “I was hungry ... I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:31-46). And the Letter to the Hebrews points out: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers; for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it “(13:2).