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Do we celebrate our heroes only after we’ve silenced them?


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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 10/13/22

Who are today those uncomfortable characters who act as society’s conscience and bring to light things we don't want to face?

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

“Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.” I wish I could say that these words of Jesus are addressed only to the past, but alas, this condemnation that Jesus sums up in these words is always relevant and timely for us. Our society celebrates the prophets, the righteous, those who testified with their lives to goodness, truth, love and justice, but only after that same society has put them out of action, or done nothing to defend them. We’ve become experts on memorial days, but we almost never ask ourselves whether we’re continuing to make the same mistakes today as we did yesterday.

It would be nice for each of us to ask ourselves today, “Who are the prophets? Who are today those uncomfortable characters who act as society’s conscience and bring to light things we don’t want to face? And when we’ve identified them, do we want to get on their side, or do we want to fight them or ignore them?”

Then Jesus continues: “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”

Jesus’ accusation is serious, because God gives the Law so that people can experience freedom – not so that the Law can become a new form of slavery. But many times our interpretations, instead of liberating others, imprison them, and the most common symptom is that of guilt. 

An authentic experience of faith never makes people feel guilty; if anything, it gives them a sense of sin – that is, the ability to know right from wrong. But every authentic experience of faith is always liberating and defeats all guilt.

Is it the same for us? Are we free, or are we oppressed by guilt fomented by distorted religious beliefs?


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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