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

Wisdom 6, 1-12

Listen then, kings, and understand; rulers of remotest lands, take warning;

hear this, you who govern great populations, taking pride in your hosts of subject nations!

For sovereignty is given to you by the Lord and power by the Most High, who will himself probe your acts and scrutinise your intentions.

If therefore, as servants of his kingdom, you have not ruled justly nor observed the law, nor followed the will of God,

he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. On the highly placed a ruthless judgement falls;

the lowly are pardoned, out of pity, but the mighty will be mightily tormented.

For the Lord of all does not cower before anyone, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike;

but a searching trial awaits those who wield power.

So, monarchs, my words are meant for you, so that you may learn wisdom and not fall into error;

for those who in holiness observe holy things will be adjudged holy, and, accepting instruction from them, will find their defence in them.

Set your heart, therefore, on what I have to say, listen with a will, and you will be instructed.

Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those who seek her, she is readily found.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The life of the just person, crowned with a royal diadem, is a model that especially those who are responsible for governing should imitate. The divine invitation for them is full of concern. Those who govern are asked the same thing that the Lord asks from everyone: to search for wisdom and the Word of God: "Set your desire on my words; long for them, and you will be instructed" (v. 11). The Word of God instructs; it teaches the way of goodness and justice. This is why everyone, including powerful people and royalty, is called to search for and desire it. The Word of God is for everyone, including those who govern. It enables people to interpret history with wisdom and helps them understand the signs of the times and have visions that go beyond their ordinary narrow horizons. By tracing the origin of human power to God the Bible is not trying to establish a theocracy, it is reminding us that no one holds power absolutely. All men and women are subject to God, and it is from God, in fact, that all men and women receive life and strength. In the end all totalitarianism is idolatry. This is why governing is a responsibility and indeed a service. Those who govern must learn from the Lord, who "made both small and great, and he takes thought for all alike" (v. 7). Here the book of Wisdom is affirming a principle of equality at a time when the idea of the equality of human beings had not yet been affirmed, except for a few exceptions in the Hellenistic world. The equality of all that demands love for all creatures is rooted in creation itself, when God made man and woman in his image and likeness. The divine origin of humanity is the root of the equality of all. This theological foundation asks all people, but in particular those who have the responsibility of governing, to preserve and protect the dignity of all men and women, from conception until natural death.