Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Jews celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Expiation). Muslims celebrate the feast of the Sacrifice (Aid al-Adha).

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

Ezra 9, 5-9

At the evening sacrifice I came out of my stupor and, falling on my knees in my torn clothes and cloak, stretched out my hands to Yahweh my God,

and said: 'My God, I am ashamed, I blush to lift my face to you, my God. For our iniquities have increased, until they are higher than our heads, and our guilt has risen as high as heaven.

From the days of our ancestors until now we have been deeply guilty and, because of our iniquities, we, our kings and our priests, have been handed over to the kings of other countries, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, to shame, as is the case today.

And now, for a brief moment, the favour of Yahweh our God has allowed a remnant of us to escape and given us a stable home in his holy place, so that our God can raise our spirits and revive us a little in our slavery.

For we are slaves; but God has not forgotten us in our slavery; he has extended his faithful love to us even under the kings of Persia and revived us to rebuild the Temple of our God, restore its ruins and provide us with a refuge in Judah and in Jerusalem.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

To be back in the promised land does not guarantee integrity and salvation. To live in the land of the fathers requires the faithfulness to the Word of God. The exile, which deprived Israel of its land, was the result of Israel’s betrayal of the alliance. It happened likewise at the time of Ezra, who showed the confusion of a man when he realized the unfaithfulness of his people. The man of God is aware not only of his own shame, but also of his people’s shame. "O my God, I am too ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens." Awareness of sin is an essential characteristic of the man and woman of faith: there is no salvation without the awareness of evil and sin. Rather, the prayer rises from this awareness that is present every day in the believers’ lives. Ezra reveals the necessity of self-analysis, of recognizing God’s gratuitous love. Seeing it, we are all pardoned, like rescued slaves: "For we are slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery." The love of God is greater than our sins. But he asks each of to be humble enough to admit it and to abandon all our justifications. Ezra knows that God left a remnant of His people, the survivors from the deportation who "are before him in [their] guilt." God does not expect everyone to be righteous before him (who might be that), but to admit their sins and ask forgiveness.