Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Remembrance of Modesta, a homeless woman who was refused medical assistance because she was dirty and was left to die in the Termini train station in Rome in 1983. Along with her we remember all those who die in the streets without a home and succours.


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 22, 26-32

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
  my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
  those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
  May your hearts live for ever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
  and turn to the Lord;
  and all the families of the nations
  shall worship before him.

28 For dominion belongs to the Lord,
  and he rules over the nations.

29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
  before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
  and I shall live for him.

30 Posterity will serve him;
  future generations will be told about the Lord,

31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
  saying that he has done it.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The verses of the psalm we sing after the first reading are part of the well-known psalm 22, the one which begins with the words that Jesus spoke on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This opening, anguished plea encapsulates the entire psalm, just as it encapsulates Jesus’ entire passion, and, with him, the cry of all the desperate of the world. The suffering man asks God for an explanation to something he cannot understand. In effect, this psalm is an invocation that rises up to God, to my God, to our God, to the One who is our God to whom we belong. And yet, God seems to abandon us, not caring about our suffering. This cry expresses both belonging and abandonment, humanity’s plea and God’s silence. It is the question of the many poor people who have been abandoned, those condemned to death, the sick who are lonely, entire peoples who are oppressed, and the victims of human violence and natural disaster. Why? There is so much anguish in those who suffer, but hope remains; there is so much heart-rending abandonment, but there is also trust. This is the miracle of faith. The psalmist calls on God not to stay far from him. And he is answered: his lamentation – we are at verse 23 – turns into a prayer of thanksgiving: “I will tell your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (v. 23). And in the second part of the psalm, the suffering man, now healed by the love of God, tells everyone about the power and goodness of the Lord, a goodness that does not abandon us even when everything else seems to indicate otherwise. This psalm, which opened with an anguished plea, now concludes with a certainty full of serenity. Salvation – the psalmist seems to be suggesting – starts with the poor, with the periphery, to use the words of Pope Francis: “The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord” (v. 27). Love for the poor becomes attractive because in it is revealed the Lord’s gratuitous love: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him” (v. 28). It is a lesson that we should treasure. Love for the poor is the surest way to “see” the love of God, a way that everyone can see and practice. And it is the greatest thing that we can transmit to future generations. When the poor are helped, they will say, “[The Lord] has done it!” (v. 32).