The Word of God

November 16, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Margaret of Scotland

For the readings on Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Margaret of Scotland
Lectionary: 676

Reading 1 – IS 58:6-11

Thus says the LORD:
This is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then light shall rise for you in darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday;
Then the LORD will guide you always
and give you plenty even on the parched land.
He will renew your strength,
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring whose water never fails.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 112:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9

R.    (1) Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R.    Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness  for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R.    Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R.    Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
An evil report he shall not fear.
His heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes.
R.    Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.
Lavishly he gives to the poor,
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R.    Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia – JN 13:34

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”

Saint Margaret of Scotland
c. 1045-1093

A foreign-born royal becomes queen and inspires by her refinement and devotion

In the early eleventh century, a Danish Viking named Canute reigned as King of England. Canute exiled his potential rivals from an Anglo-Saxon royal family. One of these exiles, Edward, made his way to Hungary, married, and had a daughter named Margaret who grew up in a well-educated, royal, Catholic home. Margaret’s father eventually returned to England at the request of the king, his uncle Saint Edward the Confessor, and he brought his family with him, including Margaret. But Edward died shortly after coming home, leaving Margaret fatherless, and then Edward the Confessor died without an heir. War broke out. In 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, the Anglo-Saxon English lost to the Norman French. Margaret and her siblings were displaced to Scotland, far away from French efforts to eradicate Anglo-Saxon royals who had claims to the English throne. Thus was the circuitous route by which a woman of English blood who grew up in Hungary is commemorated today as Saint Margaret of Scotland.

Saint Margaret was known to her contemporaries as an educated, refined, and pious woman. She married a Scottish King named Malcolm who was far more rustic than herself. He could not even read. The earliest Life of Margaret, written by a monk who personally knew her, states that Malcolm depended on his wife’s sage advice and admired her prayerfulness. According to Margaret’s biographer, Malcolm saw “that Christ truly dwelt in her heart…What she rejected, he rejected…what she loved, he, for love of her, loved too.” Malcolm embellished Margaret’s devotional books with gold and silver. One of these books, a selection of Gospel passages with illuminated miniatures of the four Evangelists, still exists and is preserved in an English museum. King Malcolm and Queen Margaret, along with their six sons and two daughters, truly created a domestic church centered on Christ. One son, David, became a national hero as King of Scotland and is popularly referred to as a saint.

Margaret’s presence infused the unsophisticated, rural, Scottish court with culture. She brought her more Roman experiences of Church life with her to Scotland, and so pulled the Scottish Church into conformity with Roman and continental practice regarding the dating and observance of Lent and Easter. She encouraged the faithful to more fully observe Sunday by not working and, like so many medieval royals, she was also a prolific foundress of monasteries, including one she intended to be the burial place for Scottish kings and queens. Margaret was known for her concern for the poor, for dedicating hours a day to prayer and spiritual reading, and for her skill in embroidering vestments and church linens.

Saint Margaret died, not yet fifty years old, just a few days after she was informed that her husband and son were killed in battle. Margaret and Malcolm were buried together under the high altar of a monastery. Devotion to the holy queen began soon after her death, and she was canonized in 1250.

Saint Margaret of Scotland, you were the model of a virtuous queen who cared for both the spiritual and material welfare of your people. Inspire all leaders to give personal witness to holiness so that, through their leadership role, they inspire their people to be more virtuous.

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