Memory of Jesus crucified

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Memorial of Onesimus, slave of Philemon, a brother in faith of the Apostle Paul.


Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 9,14-15

Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?' Jesus replied, 'Surely the bridegroom's attendants cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

While moving our first steps on the Lenten path, the Word of God reminds us that the true way is inside, that of the heart, it means progressing in love, friendship, and generosity. The Gospel does not require us to simply do some things more, even if they are good things. In truth, a deep change is requested from us. The fasting the Lord wants is fasting from selfishness and concentration on ourselves and our problems, and directing our hearts to Him, by making caring and love for the poor and the weak grow. The Gospel of Matthew speaks on fasting and explains its deep sense. John's disciples, who lived a more austere life compared to Jesus' followers, wonder about the reason of their joy. The very presence of Jesus among the people created a hopeful and festive atmosphere, in short, a special sense of joy. The disciples were really happy being with him and sharing his life spent in being among people and helping them. Following Jesus is not a sad path based on deprivation and penances. It is exactly the opposite. John's disciples realized it and were scandalized. But Jesus explained that life with him is like the party at the wedding when there is the bridegroom. And indeed, the poor had understood it: the one who freed from abandonment and desperation had come among them. Still, Jesus warns that the advent of the Kingdom also involves the struggle against evil and, as happens in every battle, there will be difficult times. There will be naysayers who will attempt to bring down the disciples who proclaim the Gospel in every way, even illicit and violent ones. In any event, we still need to get dressed to party and drink the wine of mercy; this will make the disciples strong and steady even when they will have to face difficult and suffering moments. Dietrich Bonhoeffer used to say that the Gospel makes disciples not just good but also strong.