Anonymous German Master: St. Elizabeth Clothes the Poor
and Tends the Sick (edited)
Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, 1390s
Reading I: Is 58:1-9a
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin (NRSV, Is 58:6-7)?
Let us pray.
Father, it seems possible that we can believe that you exist and know certain truths about you without it transforming our lives, but when we say “yes” to the challenge of your Word always present to us and accept his offer of a share in your divine life, or, even more, growth in that life, then something inevitably happens to the way we live. As you, Father, go out of yourself in begetting the Word, and both you and the Word go out of yourselves in the procession of the Holy Spirit, so, when we accept that life which you, who are three in one, share each with the other; when we get caught up in the one true sacrifice of divine giving, receiving and sharing; our lives are inevitably changed by your grace and the decision that we have made.
As you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit share life and love among yourselves and with us, so also will we share life and love in return, through the Son, with you and, among created beings, with one another.
The life and the love that you share with us, Father, will inevitably and without fail, as long as we remain faithful to the gift, transform our lives. We shall freely ex-ist, go out of ourselves, especially to all of our sisters and brothers in need. We shall feed those who are hungry and tend to the needs of the poor. We shall console and comfort those who are sorrowing. We shall care for the sick.
In ages gone by, it was individual acts of mercy that consumed us who would live out your life shared with us. Today, we realize more and more that changing the very structures of our society can do much better. Society can be reorganized so that many of the pains and difficulties that oppress us can be more effectively alleviated than by disparate individual acts. A structural reorganization of society, built upon individual conversion, is the most effective way towards greater justice and peace throughout the world.
Father, we are ever grateful for the gift of your life in the Holy Spirit that we receive through your Son, the Word. May we live out that life effectively through loving and serving our neighbors, especially those most in need, and by working to change society so that justice and peace may prosper.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen