Liturgy of the Sunday


Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Remembrance of Mary, Mother of Jesus, sorrowful at the foot of the cross, and of all those who live the compassion with those who are crucified, alone and condemned.

First Reading

Exodus 32,7-11.13-14

Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Go down at once, for your people whom you brought here from Egypt have become corrupt. They have quickly left the way which I ordered them to follow. They have cast themselves a metal calf, worshipped it and offered sacrifice to it, shouting, "Israel, here is your God who brought you here from Egypt!" ' Yahweh then said to Moses, 'I know these people; I know how obstinate they are! So leave me now, so that my anger can blaze at them and I can put an end to them! I shall make a great nation out of you instead.' Moses tried to pacify Yahweh his God. 'Yahweh,' he said, 'why should your anger blaze at your people, whom you have brought out of Egypt by your great power and mighty hand? Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to whom you swore by your very self and made this promise: "I shall make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven, and this whole country of which I have spoken, I shall give to your descendants, and it will be their heritage for ever." ' Yahweh then relented over the disaster which he had intended to inflict on his people.


Psalm 50


Have mercy on me, O God.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.

O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

My offences truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.

Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in your sight I have done.

That you may be justified when you give sentence
and be without reproach when you judge

O see, in the guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.

Indeed you love truth in the heart;
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom

O purify me, then I shall be clean;
O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones you have crushed may thrill

From my sins turn away your face
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,

that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

O rescue me, God my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.

O Lord, open my lips
and my mouth shall declare your praise.

For in sacrifice you take no delight,
burnt offering from me you would refuse,

my sacrifice a contrite spirit.
A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.

In your goodness, show favour to Zion :
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
(burnt offerings wholly consumed),
then you will be offered young bulls on your alter.

Second Reading

1 Timothy 1,12-17

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength. By calling me into his service he has judged me trustworthy, even though I used to be a blasphemer and a persecutor and contemptuous. Mercy, however, was shown me, because while I lacked faith I acted in ignorance; but the grace of our Lord filled me with faith and with the love that is in Christ Jesus. Here is a saying that you can rely on and nobody should doubt: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I myself am the greatest of them; and if mercy has been shown to me, it is because Jesus Christ meant to make me the leading example of his inexhaustible patience for all the other people who were later to trust in him for eternal life. To the eternal King, the undying, invisible and only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 15,1-32

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him, and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.' So he told them this parable: 'Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost." In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance. 'Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost." In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.' Then he said, 'There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, "Father, let me have the share of the estate that will come to me." So the father divided the property between them. A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery. 'When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch; so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs. And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them. Then he came to his senses and said, "How many of my father's hired men have all the food they want and more, and here am I dying of hunger! I will leave this place and go to my father and say: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired men." So he left the place and went back to his father. 'While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity. He ran to the boy, clasped him in his arms and kissed him. Then his son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found." And they began to celebrate. 'Now the elder son was out in the fields, and on his way back, as he drew near the house, he could hear music and dancing. Calling one of the servants he asked what it was all about. The servant told him, "Your brother has come, and your father has killed the calf we had been fattening because he has got him back safe and sound." He was angry then and refused to go in, and his father came out and began to urge him to come in; but he retorted to his father, "All these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed any orders of yours, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends. But, for this son of yours, when he comes back after swallowing up your property -- he and his loose women -- you kill the calf we had been fattening." 'The father said, "My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia


In this Sunday's Gospel we first see a shepherd who calls his friends and says, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost" (v. 6) and then a housewife, who goes to her friends and invites them to "rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost" (v. 9). Finally we see a father who calls his servants and says, "Get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again" (v. 23-24). These are three ways to express the same state of mind: God's joy when He finds His children who had been lost. I would like to imagine the joy of God that explodes in every Sunday liturgy. But this festival is beautiful because it is shared, and it unites heaven and earth. It is the happiness of bread that is broken together. The sons in the parable instead are looking only for their personal happiness.
"Father - says the younger son - give me the share of the property that will belong to me" (v. 12). He would rather have a part than all. That young man, like many of us, was bothered by the idea of having to share. He was bothered by not being the absolute master of himself and his things. "Give me what belongs to me!" What a sad, daily refrain. The young man went far away, and lived a dissolute life, "untied" from all dependency, from his dependency on his father and his household. But by behaving like that, the young man found himself watching pigs.
The older brother was equally selfish. As soon as the servants told him the reason for the celebration, he got angry with his father and would not go in the house. He refused the celebration and he refused the mercy. He would rather have a kid goat for himself and a few friends than a fatted calf at a table set for his brother and everyone else. It seems strange that he does not want to be part of this celebration, but that is what happens every time we want the celebration all to ourselves. The Father says, "All that is mine is yours" (v. 31). But the son would rather stay outside, nervous and sad; it seems incredible, but the only reason he is sad is because his father has organized a great celebration.
These two sons are not far from us; they both live in each of our hearts, united in the same desire to have everything for themselves, the exact opposite of what the Father wants.
Sunday is the day of the Father's celebration, the blessed day for us to return. The holy liturgy comes to us and overcomes all of our sadness, all of our sin, and all of our narrow-mindedness. We need to let ourselves get caught up in the celebration and enjoy it. Sunday widens our heart, knocks down walls, opens the doors of our minds, and helps us look out towards the world, towards the poor. Sunday is broad, as broad as God's mercy. Sunday is rich, not petty; it is full of feelings more beautiful than the banal instincts we take for granted. Sunday is the holy day in which God makes us happier men and women. An ancient hymn, composed by the bishop Saint John Chrysostom, says: "If there are any true friends of God, let them enjoy this beautiful, bright festival. Those who have worked and those who have not, those in peace and those in suffering, those who are lost and those at home, those who are weighed down and those lifted up. May they all come and they will be welcomed. The holy liturgy is God's festival, forgiveness, and embrace for us all." May it be so for each one of us today.