Memory of the Poor

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 97, 1-2.6.9

1 The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice;
  let the many coastlands be glad!

2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
  righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
  and all the peoples behold his glory.

7 All worshippers of images are put to shame,
  those who make their boast in worthless idols;
  all gods bow down before him.

9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
  you are exalted far above all gods.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 97, of which we sing only a few verses, is part of the series of royal psalms. In describing God’s kingship, the psalmist borrows some images from the mythological culture of the time: clouds and darkness surround God as he reigns (v. 2), fire goes before his face and burns all his enemies (v. 3), and before him the world melts like wax (v. 5). This ancient language is meant to express God’s power, a power that is even marked by “jealousy.” God is jealous of his lordship over the world, over Israel, and over men and women, and He will not let anyone else take his place. The road is completely blocked for those who want to make themselves masters over other people’s lives. This is why the proclamation of God’s kingship is good news, especially for the oppressed, for those who are forced to submit to masters, but also for those who are alone, for the sick people crushed by evil, and for all of us who are slaves of selfishness. We can finally expect someone to free men and women from their slavery. It is not by chance that the psalm speaks of the ties between God’s kingship and justice and righteousness. Even the islands are invited to rejoice at God’s kingship, along with Jerusalem and all the righteous and upright of heart who dwell there. Only those who worship idols (v. 7) do not rejoice at God’s kingship. Idolatry in fact blinds the heart and keeps people from seeing the strength of the Lord’s love. God does not exclude anyone. But those who prefer to submit to the slavery of idols exclude themselves from love. All those who submit to evil and resign themselves to its power become blind and prevent love from taking root in their heart. But those who let their hearts be touched by faith will be caught up in the psalmist’s joy. This joy does not come cheaply, however. The believer is not by nature an optimist, as has sometimes been said. The believer’s joy demands the work of faith, the practice of love, and the abandonment of his or her life into God’s hands. For the believer it is clear that only God is the Lord. It is wrong to believe that God’s uniqueness takes something away from men and women. Quite the contrary - not only does it not take anything away, it enriches their joy. God’s reign is not like those of men and women, who like to dominate others, as Jesus will say to the disciples. The Lord reigns to give men and women the freedom to love. In fact, his lordship is a cry for freedom; no one can act like the master of the world and oppress others, no man or woman, no nation, no institution. Men and women are free from everything in order to belong to the Lord alone. This is why “justice” and “righteousness” are at the base of God’s kingdom. God is king so that righteousness and justice may be established among men and women. The psalmist concludes by saying that justice is like a “light [that] dawns for the righteous” (v. 11). With justice comes the dawn of the kingdom that God came to establish on earth. The believer in this kingdom is a person who loves the Lord, hates evil, is faithful and just, upright of heart, and full of joy.