Memory of the Poor

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Memorial of Saint Adalbert, bishop of Prague. He suffered martyrdom in eastern Prussia where he had gone to preach the Gospel (†997). He spent time in Rome, where his memory is venerated in the basilica of Saint Bartholomew on the Tiberine Island.


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

John 10,1-10

'In all truth I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a bandit. He who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out all those that are his, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognise the voice of strangers.' Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus spoke to them again: In all truth I tell you, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All who have come before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.

 

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 Gospel passage, Jesus proposes himself as the "good shepherd" who gathers the scattered sheep and guides them along God's path. The image may seem ancient, but its truth is very relevant to us. Maybe never like today men and women live dispersed and alone. The push toward atomization seems much stronger than the one toward solidarity: individuals, as well as peoples, pursue their interests over everyone and everything. Distances and conflicts grow. The dream for equality is even considered dangerous. And even the fact of not having to depend on anyone or to be influenced or conditioned by anyone else is exalted as a value. In this climate, "thieves" and "bandits" - the ones who steal life from others for their personal gain - increase and multiply. Even human life also becomes a commodity to sell or steal. The dictatorship of the market spares no one. And the weakest are the most penalized and abused. Globalization has certainly made peoples closer but it has not made them brothers and sisters. There is a need for a "good shepherd" who knows his sheep and saves them, one by one, leading them to pastures and taking care that all can sufficiently nourish themselves. Too many people, however, are the "thieves" and "bandits" who continue to steal the life of others, especially of the little ones, of the elderly, of the defenceless. And many of us run the risk of becoming their accomplices. Each time we close ourselves in our egocentrism, not only are we prey to them, but we also become accomplices to their stealing. It is not by chance that pope Francis stigmatized the globalization of indifference, the lack of weeping for those who die in abandonment. Saint Ambrose noted with good reason: "How many masters end up having those who refuse the one Lord!" Jesus, the good pastor, gathers us from our dispersion and guides us toward a common destiny; and, if needed, he goes to personally take whoever is lost and lead them back to the fold. In order to do this, he does not fear passing through death, if necessary; he is certain that the Father gives life back to whoever spends it generously for others. This is the miracle of Easter. The risen Jesus is the gate that opens so that we may enter into eternal life. Jesus does not rob us of our life; on the contrary, he gives it to us abundantly, multiplied for eternity.