Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel is for the poor people
My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? ? Jas 2,1-5
When Jesus, at the beginning of his public life, entered the synagogue in Nazareth and raised up to read, an unknown hand, led by the Spirit of God, handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He opened it and read: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4,18-19). Certainly Jesus, due to the education received from Mary and Joseph, had already embraced the cause of the last, but that day in the synagogue of Nazareth the purpose of his mission was officially disclosed: God has chosen the poor people! All of Jesus’ public life, as it is described in the gospels, alternates upon prayer with the Father, the revelation of the mysteries of the kingdom, the training of the apostles and the liberation of the man from his poverty. Because God, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, has chosen the poor poeople, the Church must practice the same approach. The poor people are the recipients of the message of the gospel, but that does not mean that the rich and powerful people are excluded. The message is also for them, provided that they make themselves poor: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5,3). The only condition to enter the kingdom of the heaven is, therefore, poverty: the rich and powerful people who do not make themselves poor are excluded. The today’s passage of the letter of James also teaches the way in which the ecclesial community must accept the poor people by giving them the same dignity which is given to the rich and powerful people. Over the years we realized that the conditions to meet really the Lord are two: to open to the poor people and to become poor. And how much this is true it is clear from the fact that in both cases the man is happy. We remember always with joy the Holy Christmas of 2002. Lisalberta, on her way to home from the mass, helped to cross the street Mr. Joseph, an elderly person who lived alone in our Saronno. When they were on the opposite sidewalk Lisalberta, curious as ever, asked, “How do you celebrate the Christmas today, sir?” …. “In my house – said Mr. Joseph – I live alone, but I have already -prepared the dinner, I have everything, I do not miss anything”. “Come with us – said Lisalberta – we have an empty seat at the table”. I immagine the push and pull which followed that verbal invitation, but in the end Mr. Joseph gladly accepted. Lisalberta brought him to lunch at our house and when he reached the door she announced: “Today we have a guest, his name is Joseph”. We let him to enter and he spent Christmas with us, sitting at the head table. It was a beautiful day for the all of us and also for him, who, instead of dining alone, was adopted as a grandfather, and in that role he began to narrate to the boys some episodes of his life. The invitation was repeated in the subsequent years, until he passed away. We know that on that Christmas of 2002, the Lord came to our house in the person of Mr. Joseph.