Memory of the Church

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Remembrance of Athenagoras (1886-1972), patriarch of Constantinople and father of ecumenical dialogue.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hosea 11,1-4.8-9

When Israel was a child I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called, the further they went away from me; they offered sacrifice to Baal and burnt incense to idols. I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I myself took them by the arm, but they did not know that I was the one caring for them, that I was leading them with human ties, with leading-strings of love, that, with them, I was like someone lifting an infant to his cheek, and that I bent down to feed him. Ephraim, how could I part with you? Israel, how could I give you up? How could I make you like Admah or treat you like Zeboiim? My heart within me is overwhelmed, fever grips my inmost being. I will not give rein to my fierce anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again, for I am God, not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I shall not come to you in anger.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage describes God's paternal and maternal care for Israel. The same initial call of God to Israel to deliver them from the slavery of Egypt springs freely from a passionate heart that wants not only to free the son but to entrust him with an extraordinary mission. Freedom for that son is to fulfil the dream that the Father has for humanity. He frees him from slavery, cares for him, makes him grow, teaches him to walk by taking him by the hand, draws him to himself with bonds of mercy, bends down to feed him. He has done everything for that son. And yet he finds nothing but betrayal! It is a poignant page of love that we can also apply to us. The Lord has taken care of us too, like a tender and caring father. He has called us to be part of his people, his family, the community of believers. And he has given us a mother, the Church, as the Fathers of the early Church loved to say: "You cannot have God for a father unless you have the Church for a mother." And yet, how often we too continue to follow our own little plans, our own short perspectives, rejecting God's love and turning away from him. But the Lord does not abandon his dream for us, that of freeing us from the many slaves of the world to be witnesses among all peoples of an extraordinary love that knows no limits except that of being without limits. For this reason, despite our betrayals, the Father returns to call us, to bend down over us, to follow us with care, to forgive us and to draw us to himself.