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

Psalm 8,2.5-9

1 O Lord, our Sovereign,
  how majestic is your name in all the earth!

4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
  mortals that you care for them?

5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
  and crowned them with glory and honour.

6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
  you have put all things under their feet,

7 all sheep and oxen,
  and also the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
  whatever passes along the paths of the seas.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

“O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” This exclamation that opens and closes Psalm 8 conveys the psalmist’s amazement for the human creature: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, what are human beings that you are mindful of them?” (v. 5). What are human beings? It is a simple question that each one of us must ask him or herself not only in front of the immensity of creation, but especially because of the greatness of the Creator. But can we also read it as a prayer, an invocation directed to God? Only the Lord, in effect, can give reason to the greatness of humanity. None of us is capable of addressing the profound mystery of our existence. Human beings are not the masters of themselves and are marked with radical fragility. To know who we are we have to lift our gaze up to God. Only in God do we understand our true dignity, the dignity of each human being: “Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honour” (v. 6). The author of the Letter to the Hebrews applies this psalm to Jesus, the perfect man, “crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Heb 2:9). Contemplating the firmament, the psalmist becomes aware that we are but small creatures, and yet we are the object of God’s care and mindfulness. Human life depends upon God’s mindfulness in which human fragility finds its majesty. The psalmist looks at God’s mightiness, the firm point of our faith. The human person, even when measured only against the expanse of the heavens and history, is but an insignificant thing, and it takes next to nothing for a person to fall into illness and death. And yet, the psalmist sings, God is mindful of him, and “you have put all things under their feet” (v. 6b). The psalmist employs two terms to signify the human person, enosh and ben adam. Enosh means the transient man, apparently insignificant, who in the face of the earth’s immensity and time’s length seems to vanish into nothingness: “As for mortals, their days are like grass” (Ps 103:15). Ben adam means “son of man”, that is, any person, a person who comes from the earth (adama). And yet it is to this ben adam that God has given the strength to love all as brothers and sisters. There is a radical unity that binds all men and women: they are children of God and so, brothers and sisters. The fact that God is our father is the source of the greatness of all and of each one.