Memory of the Church

Share On

Memorial of Saint Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, bishop and martyr (†155).

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 1,1-5

1 Happy are those
  who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
  or take the path that sinners tread,
  or sit in the seat of scoffers;

2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
  and on his law they meditate day and night.

3 They are like trees
  planted by streams of water,
  which yield their fruit in its season,
  and their leaves do not wither.
  In all that they do, they prosper.

4 The wicked are not so,
  but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
  nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The psalmist opens the book of the Psalms with the beatitude of the believer who listens to the word of the Lord. Listening distinguishes the believer from the fool. It is not intelligence, culture, or the human qualities one might possess that make an individual a disciple, but only listening. The fool avoids listening to the Word of the Lord and, following only himself, deludes himself into thinking that he is living life to the fullest and freely. But the fool finds himself with a life that becomes like ‘chaff’ scattered by the wind (the Hebrew word for “chaff” signifies a thing without weight or roots that flutters about and dissipates). For this reason, the psalmist notes, the wicked “will perish.” The righteous, instead, who do not heed the advice of the wicked and who do not “sit in the seat of scoffers,” find their joy in listening to the Lord. They love and meditate on the Law of the Lord day and night (the Hebrew word for “meditate” means to recite the sacred text, murmuring its words until they are committed to memory). The psalmist is trying to suggest that God whispers His Word in an effective manner so that it may reach the heart of every believer and remain there so it can bear fruit. The psalmist compares the righteous to a tree firmly planted by a stream that bears fruit in every season and condition, whose leaves are always green. Wisdom, knowledge and prudence blossom from a heart that listens to the Word of God, and saintly deeds flow from it. The Word of God, in fact, not only gains joy for whoever listens to it, but also is a force that pushes us to perform works of love. But those who stray from the Law of the Lord instead lead a sad, empty, and fruitless life. From the very first psalm, the Psalmist invites believers of every age to rediscover the primacy of listening because it is the foundation of our very lives. It is what Jesus will do at the beginning of his ministry of preaching, when he calls those who listen to his word and put it into practice “blessed”, because by doing so they are building their lives on solid rock.