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

Acts 20,25-31

'I now feel sure that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will ever see my face again. And so on this very day I swear that my conscience is clear as far as all of you are concerned, for I have without faltering put before you the whole of God's purpose. 'Be on your guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you the guardians, to feed the Church of God which he bought with the blood of his own Son. 'I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and will have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks there will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard, remembering how night and day for three years I never slackened in counselling each one of you with tears.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

With verse 28, Paul changes the tone of his speech. He does not speak anymore of himself and his testimony, but rather of the responsibility for the flock entrusted to them, that is, the community that the shepherds have. In order to stress the gravity of the issue, Paul opens with a strong admonition, “Keep watch over yourselves!” The apostle wants to warn the shepherds, but also every believer, for each of us will have to respond to God, moreover to the Trinity, of any negligence against others. We should welcome Paul’s admonition with reverence and trepidation, “Keep watch over yourselves!” The salvation of each of us is connected to that of the entire community. There is obviously a specific responsibility of the shepherds towards the flock. And yet, we are all, each one in his or her own way, shepherds, that is, responsible for the life of the brothers and sisters in the community, or even more of the entire human family. The Holy Spirit makes all of us “guardians” of the flock, responsible of the life of the entire ecclesial community, of the entire Church, of all men and women. Believers are somehow dispossessed of themselves, they do not belong to themselves anymore; they are of God for the service to the Church and the world. In front of our eyes, Jesus, “the good shepherd” who gives his life for the sheep, stands out. Jesus is the true “bishop,” the one who keeps vigil and watch over the entire flock. We all need to imitate him. The words of Ignatius of Antioch in which he entrusts the church of Ephesus, of which he is bishop, to the Christians of Rome make us think, “Remember in your prayer of the Church of Syria, which has God in my place as shepherd. Only Jesus Christ will watch (episcopèsei) over it, and your charity.” (A scholar has translated it instead of “Jesus Christ will watch over it” to “Jesus Christ will be its bishop”) Jesus is the ideal shepherd. Each believer should turn his or her eyes to Jesus in order to “shepherd” the “Church of God” (v. 28). The expression is solemn and stresses that those who are part of it are “holy” because they are chosen by God. The Community belongs to God; it does not belong to us; if anything ,it is we who belong to it. But the Lord makes us its keepers.