Memory of the Poor

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Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Christian communities in Africa.


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 98, 1-6

1 O sing to the Lord a new song,
  for he has done marvellous things.
  His right hand and his holy arm
  have gained him victory.

2 The Lord has made known his victory;
  he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
  to the house of Israel.
  All the ends of the earth have seen
  the victory of our God.

4 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
  break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
  with the lyre and the sound of melody.

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
  make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Once again, the liturgy has us sing psalm 98, a hymn to God’s royalty. The psalmist might be referring to the end of the Babylonian exile. He imagines the return from exile of God himself, as if to suggest that God and His people are one and the same. One could say that God himself was defeated and exiled with His people to Babylon. Our thoughts go to the tragedy of the Holocaust and the terrible question: where was God? Many Jewish thinkers answered that God was in His humiliated and destroyed people. The psalmist sings that the Lord, the God of Israel, who seemed to have been defeated by the idols of Babylon, had won the victory, a victory that was clear in the eyes of all people: “The Lord has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations” (v. 2). And now the Lord, with those whom he has redeemed, returns to his capital and his palace like a triumphant king to claim his legitimate, universal kingdom. In the words of the psalmist we can see a triple invitation to acclaim the Lord. First, the assembly of the faithful must praise the Lord, because “He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel” (v. 3). And it is right for the assembly to gather together in praise of the Lord But the entire city is called to applaud the Lord: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises” (v. 4). Indeed, the assembly of believers is not disconnected from the people who inhabit the cities of the earth. Believers are responsible for the peace between peoples and for justice on the earth. The well-known opening of Gaudium et Spes from the Second Vatican Council reminds us of the meaning of this responsibility: “The joys and the hopes, the grieves and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the grieves and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” These words reveal the inevitable involvement of believers in the life of the world. Like her Lord, the Church does not live for herself, but for the salvation of all people. This is why Pope Francis now insists on a Church that “goes out,” a Church that spends herself to communicate to all, and particularly to the poor, the Gospel of love, the Gospel that saves from all sadness and slavery.