Memory of the Church

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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 111, 1-4.7-8

1 Praise the Lord!
  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
  in the company of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the works of the Lord,
  studied by all who delight in them.

3 Full of honour and majesty is his work,
  and his righteousness endures for ever.

4 He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
  the Lord is gracious and merciful.

7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
  all his precepts are trustworthy.

8 They are established for ever and ever,
  to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The liturgy once again offers us psalm 111, a hymn of praise to the greatness of God’s love. It is a prayer that involves the entire assembly of believers, because the Lord decided to save Israel as one people. Of course, the individual believer also praises the Lord. But the scope of this psalm is the salvation of the people achieved through the Lord. There are those who think this was one of Jesus’ favourite psalms, because there are many echoes of its themes in the Gospels. It was certainly very precious to Jewish piety. Christian tradition has also drawn on it, referring to it in particular during the celebration of Easter. Saint Ephrem the Syrian commented on the fourth verse of this psalm by composing this stanza: “O last evening of the Lord, how blessed! In you the vigil of Egypt was brought to fulfilment: the Lord ate the old Passover and made it the great Passover. From feast to feast, from Passover to Passover, the figures are fulfilled.” Year after year we also celebrate Easter, the victory of good over evil, of life over death. In fact, the Lord continues to act in history – through his “deeds” – to save men and women from the many forms of slavery that crush and humiliate them. And Easter comes back every year, not be a repetitive ritual, but to continue to descend into the depths of history and guide us towards the kingdom of heaven. God’s salvation is not an abstract or hidden mystery, nor does it just concern individuals. Easter – the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus – is visible and concrete. It is a force that changes hearts and history. This is how God’s intervention in history begins. Moved by the slavery of the people of Israel in Egypt, He came down to free them and guide them into a land of freedom. When the fullness of time had come, He sent His own Son to begin the kingdom of history, the world in which love, justice, and peace will take the place of hatred, injustice, and war. Already in the Old Testament, the psalmist contemplates the Lord’s deeds of salvation, meditates on them, savours them, and discovers in them the strength of God’s love. As he looks on them he says that they are great, beautiful, splendid, powerful, faithful, and just. And they could not be any different, because God performed with mercy and tenderness, with justice and truth. The final age has begun with Jesus. And Jesus himself entrusted the Church with the responsibility of communicating the Gospel and working for the kingdom of heaven. It is the primary responsibility of the disciples of the Church. We are called to perform the same deeds that Jesus performed. The Gospel is the true “form” of the Church, its way of being in history and among men and women. Jesus even said to his disciples, “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father” (Jn 14:12). How often are our works, especially in service of the Gospel, the poor, our brothers and sisters, sloppy because we perform them without love! The psalmist invites us to contemplate the words of God in our time and to live with his passion and love for all, starting with the poorest.