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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

Revelation 11,1-14

Then I was given a long cane like a measuring rod, and I was told, 'Get up and measure God's sanctuary, and the altar, and the people who worship there;

but exclude the outer court and do not measure it, because it has been handed over to gentiles -- they will trample on the holy city for forty-two months.

But I shall send my two witnesses to prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.

These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in attendance on the Lord of the world.

Fire comes from their mouths and consumes their enemies if anyone tries to harm them; and anyone who tries to harm them will certainly be killed in this way.

They have the power to lock up the sky so that it does not rain as long as they are prophesying; they have the power to turn water into blood and strike the whole world with any plague as often as they like.

When they have completed their witnessing, the beast that comes out of the Abyss is going to make war on them and overcome them and kill them.

Their corpses lie in the main street of the great city known by the symbolic names Sodom and Egypt, in which their Lord was crucified.

People of every race, tribe, language and nation stare at their corpses, for three-and-a-half days, not letting them be buried,

and the people of the world are glad about it and celebrate the event by giving presents to each other, because these two prophets have been a plague to the people of the world.'

After the three-and-a-half days, God breathed life into them and they stood up on their feet, and everybody who saw it happen was terrified;

then I heard a loud voice from heaven say to them, 'Come up here,' and while their enemies were watching, they went up to heaven in a cloud.

Immediately, there was a violent earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed; seven thousand persons were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors, overcome with fear, could only praise the God of heaven.

That was the second of the disasters; the third is to come quickly after it.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We are still within the context of the sixth trumpet. John is now given a rod to measure the temple; it is, however, like the staff used to measure the new temple, that is, the Church, the body of Christ. In this image we can make out an invitation to recognize who is part of the Christian community, those who feel that the Church is his or her family. The Church is not anonymous; it is not an undifferentiated group. And the believer recognizes his community in turn, the family of faith to which he belongs. We cannot be Christians alone, and we cannot save ourselves alone. God did not want to save men and women individually, but by gathering them together as a people. This is the story of the people of Israel and the story of the Church; both, however, are at the service of the salvation of all people and nations. The Church is called to spend its life and energy for the salvation of the entire world. There is an insuppressible preoccupation with universality at its heart. The more each individual Christian opens his or her heart to the entire world, the more he or she descends into the depths of the mystery of the Church. This is why the very nature of the community of believers contradicts all turning inward, all self-referentiality, and all individualism. And this is why the Church is opposed by a world that makes selfishness its law and love for the self the rule of its life. This happened during John’s time, and it happened over the course of the twentieth century. The Church can never completely "adapt" itself to the world; consequently, it will always be "persecuted" to the point of suffering the same fate as its teacher, Christ. The two witnesses who appear are the personification of all this. Perhaps John is referring to the apostles Peter and Paul, who fell as martyrs in Rome, the "great city." In any case, the two witnesses represent the Church, the entire community of believers. They preached the Gospel in Rome - the capital of the empire - where they were martyred. They followed the Lord to the letter, to the point of testifying their love for Him with their blood. But death and the tomb are not their final destination. Just as in Ezekiel’s surreal vision of the dry bones that reacquire flesh and life through the breath of God’s Spirit (37:10), so too the resurrection is made real in the bodies of the two martyrs. Their experience, like that of the Church, retraces the experience of Christ himself. Dead like him, they rise with him, revealing their glory to the world. They too are "assumed" into heaven. Jesus himself had said to the Father: "I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am" (Jn 17:24).

Memory of Jesus crucified