Memory of the Poor

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Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church.


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 19,25-34

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, 'Woman, this is your son.' Then to the disciple he said, 'This is your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed and, so that the scripture should be completely fulfilled, he said: I am thirsty. A jar full of sour wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a hyssop stick, they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the wine he said, 'It is fulfilled'; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit. It was the Day of Preparation, and to avoid the bodies' remaining on the cross during the Sabbath -- since that Sabbath was a day of special solemnity -- the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away. Consequently the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with him and then of the other. When they came to Jesus, they saw he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After celebrating the great feast of Pentecost -- which had marked the beginning of the history of the Church in the world - we contemplate a Church which has begun to exist beneath the cross, close to Jesus' and death. This Gospel reminds us that wherever a community of disciples forms under the cross - sign of every human suffering - there indeed is the Church. We hear the echo of the words which Jesus said to his mother: "Woman here is you son" and to the disciple "Here is your mother." These words of Jesus' passion speak to our lives, to our desire to be safe, to avoid problems and to avoid suffering and the challenges of evil. The elderly Simeon had predicted to Mary: "A sword will pierce your own soul too" (Lk 2: 35). We need to let our hearts be touched by pain, to stay under the cross, to receive the consolation of finding a mother and a son, brothers and sisters, who do not abandon us or leave us alone. "From that moment" the Gospel says, "the disciple took her into his house." To take into the homes of our communities the mother of Jesus, which is the Church, means to be with her under the many crosses of the world as a sign of hope, as a sign of new life that is reborn, as a sign of a new family which forms starting right from these words of the Gospel. Mary and John are an example for us. John did not run away. He followed the Lord to the cross. He did not seek comfortable refuge or easy shortcuts. He arrived there where his love of Jesus had brought him. Mary did not leave her son. At the foot of the cross she gathers his words, as if in a precious chalice, because in those words there lies the entire life of her son; there lies the secret of his love which does not want to save himself but to give his life for others. Mary and John understood this, and we can all learn to stay close to those who suffer and to those who seek true love for their lives.