Memory of the Church

Deel Op

Memorial of the dedication of the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere where the Community of Sant'Egidio prays every day.


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

Luke 19,1-10

He entered Jericho and was going through the town and suddenly a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax collectors and a wealthy man. He kept trying to see which Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I am to stay at your house today.' And he hurried down and welcomed him joyfully. They all complained when they saw what was happening. 'He has gone to stay at a sinner's house,' they said. But Zacchaeus stood his ground and said to the Lord, 'Look, sir, I am going to give half my property to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham; for the Son of man has come to seek out and save what was lost.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today we join in the prayer and the joy of the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. On November 15, 1215, Pope Innocent III, accompanied by the bishops participating in the Fourth Lateran Council, which had just opened a few days before, came to consecrate this Basilica, one of the best known in Rome. It is possible that Saint Francis, who had come to Rome for the Council, was also present. He had decided to stay in Trastevere at the house for lepers at the port. The Basilica was already in existence at the beginning of the first millennium. The Christian community began to gather in Trastevere in the "house of Callixtus," which was later transformed into the Basilica of Pope Julius and then the current building. In the ancient times of Callixtus, the Christian community felt the urgency of mission in a city that was still pagan, and, we could say, this Basilica has continued to be the sign of God's presence in this part of the city. Over the last few decades, the presence of the Community of Sant'Egidio has been like a renewal of the miracle that gave this Basilica its ancient title: "fons olei," fountain of oil. The Basilica has become a sanctuary of the people, a fountain of mercy, where many come to quench their thirst, to encounter the Lord, and to feel the warmth of love and consolation. Every evening it hosts the prayer of the Community, and here the poor are welcomed and loved. The lunch with the poor at Christmas started in this Basilica, and it has become a contemporary "manger" that has spread to many cities in the world. We could say that it is the Basilica of all, but particularly the poor. We remember the feast of its dedication this year to tie it to the fiftieth year of the life of the Community of Sant'Egidio. The Basilica has become its beautiful home. Over the course of this year, the Basilica has been able to see the joy of many who give thanks to the Lord for the gift of the Community. It is the joy of Zacchaeus, the many who like Zacchaeus welcome the Lord and change their lives. We could say that, unlike what happened in the Gospel passage, now it is the Lord who welcomes us in his house. In the Basilica - and with it, in all the places of prayer of the Community - the Lord welcomes us, speaks to us, nourishes us, and teaches us to open our doors to all, especially the poor. Zacchaeus teaches us to come down in a hurry and enter, because the Lord wants to be with us. And, from the Basilica and from every place of the Community, we can repeat: "Today salvation has come to this house."