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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 22,34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees they got together

and, to put him to the test, one of them put a further question,

'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?'

Jesus said to him, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself.

On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Love for God and for neighbour is the lynchpin on which "hang all the law and the prophets." This is what Jesus answered to the Pharisees who asked him about which was the greatest commandment of the law. The Jewish religious thinking of that time had codified 613 precepts, of which 365 were negative and 248 were positive. It was a mass of instructions, even if they did not all have the same value. It was clear, however, what the first was: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deut 6:4-5). The command to love one’s neighbour was also well known. The originality of the Gospel is not that it recalls these two commandments, but that connects them so tightly it unites them. The commandment about love of neighbour is assimilated with the first and greatest commandment about complete and total love of God, because they are both a part of the same unifying and fundamental principle. The road that leads to God necessarily crosses the one that leads to men and women, and, obviously and especially, this road leads to those men and women who have greater need of being defended because they are weaker. By defending them, we defend God. John the Evangelist goes as far as saying: "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another" (1 Jn 3:14). That is not all. God does not seem to be competing with our love for men and women; in a certain sense, God does not insist on reciprocity in love (even though it is obviously needed). Jesus in fact does not ask: "Love me as I have loved you," but "Just as I have loved you, you also should love should love one another" (John 13:34). This is what puts him above David, because it places him on God’s own level. This title, which echoes several times in the Gospels, helps us understand the divine heart of Jesus.

Memory of Jesus crucified