Memory of Jesus crucified

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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 19, 8-11

7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
  reviving the soul;
  the decrees of the Lord are sure,
  making wise the simple;

8 the precepts of the Lord are right,
  rejoicing the heart;
  the commandment of the Lord is clear,
  enlightening the eyes;

9 the fear of the Lord is pure,
  enduring for ever;
  the ordinances of the Lord are true
  and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,
  even much fine gold;
  sweeter also than honey,
  and drippings of the honeycomb.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this third section of Psalm 19, the psalmist sings a hymn to the Law of the Lord. This law, the psalmist strongly affirms—“is perfect.” The term “Law” means the “Torah” (which means “instruction), that is, the teaching that God gave his people in order to walk the way of salvation. The word Law—in Judaism—means the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch). In these books the saving action of God the commandments that the Lord gives to his people are described. It is not a list of norms, but rather a description of God’s covenant with His people. The word Law is intended as salvific, liberating action of God for Israel and His prescription of a new way of obedience. Therefore the Law is the way of salvation. It is the “perfect” way, the straight way, not bending and insidious like the ways of people which lead to violence and slavery. Instead, the “Law” of the Lord leads the people toward salvation. These are not exterior rules; rather they require a choice, an alliance that viscerally involves the Lord and his people. The Law is not written in stone, but in the hearts of believers. And it is the Law that makes them a people of God. The Law edifies, it binds the believers to the Lord and therefore among themselves. The episode of the discovery of the book of Law in the temple after the exile in Babylon comes to mind. The book of Ezra describes the moment when it was rediscovered: “All people gathered together into the square …all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law” (Ne 8:1, 9). This is why the psalmist can say that the Law “refreshes the soul” and sustains the people in their covenant. The Law is clear and it clarifies our gazes. It is just and more desirable than gold, sweeter than honey, the psalmist sings. And it produces good effects: the “Law” makes us live, renders us wise, lightens the heart and illuminates our eyes. When Jesus came to Earth, he did not deny the Law, but he brought it to fulfilment. During his Sermon on the Mount, he said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil” (Mt 5:17). And when they asked him which was the greatest commandment, he responded: “'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Mt 22:34-40). For Christians, the entire Law can be summarized in these two great commandments which marked the very life of Jesus and that of his disciples. It is entrusted to us as well, at the beginning of this new millennium, so that it can continue to bring forth fruits of justice, peace and love.