Saint Gall, abbot and missionary; also of Saint Hedwig and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, religious.
Gall or Gallus (c. 550-645) studied in the monastery at Bangor, Co. Down and was one of the companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to the European continent. First they lived a monastic life in Luxeuil (France); and then (610) they voyaged up the Rhine to Bregenz. But when Columban moved on to Italy, Gall remained behind due to illness and was nursed at Arbon, south of Lake Constance. He led the life of a hermit and preacher for many years, and died at the age of ninety-five in Arbon, near modern Sankt Gallen.
Hedwig or Jadwiga (1174-1243) was Duchess of Silesia from 1201 and High Duchess of Poland from 1232. On the death of her husband, Henry (1238) she entered the Cistercian monastery which he had established at her request and lived there the rest of her life as a lay sister.
Margaret Alacoque (1647-1690) from L’Hautecour, Burgundy, was from early childhood devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. After four years of illness, at the age of 13 she vowed to the Blessed Virgin to consecrate herself to religious life, and was restored to perfect health, adding the name Mary to her baptismal name. She experienced mystical visions of Jesus Christ, whom she zealously proclaimed under the symbol of the Sacred Heart.
First Reading: Ephesians 1:1-10
(God chose us in Christ before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight.)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. .
Gospel: Luke 11:47-54
(Jesus’ enemies are like those who killed the prophets of old.)
Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,” so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
Many Old Testament ideas resonate in Paul’s writings, such as the justice of God, the glory of God, redemption by blood-sacrifice, divine favour, the fullness of time. Blood is evocatively mentioned in both readings today. We are redeemed through his blood (Ephesians); and Christ’s blood joins that of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world (Luke). Our faith assigns a positive life-giving meaning to the blood of Christ. It is as symbolic of life and not of death, that the blood of Christ mysteriously unites us with God and each other. When the covenant of life was sealed between Yahweh and the faithful (Exod 24:6-8) blood was sprinkled on the altar and on the people. Ephesians stresses the bond of unity established by blood , and extends this unity to “before the world began.” This gift of life in Christ is given because God planned to love us and give us life, before we even existed. This eternal benevolence is strongly expressed in Ephesians and underlies all true love.
Jesus speaks of blood in his controversy with a group of Pharisees and lawyers. When he condemns them for erecting monumental tombs over the graves of the prophets, it is not that he is opposed to honouring the prophets. Typical of the blood-symbolism, Jesus wants to honour the dead, not so much by remembering their dead bones, but by continuing their life and imitating their concern for others, especially for the poor and people in desperate need; we too are meant to stand up for the cause of justice, for the dignity and rights of the least privileged. By shedding their blood in defence of justice the prophets paved the way for the future conversion of their people.