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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Saint Charles Borromeo (+1584), bishop of Milan.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Revelation 12,7-18

And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels,

but they were defeated and driven out of heaven.

The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him.

Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, 'Salvation and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now that the accuser, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.

They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness, because even in the face of death they did not cling to life.

So let the heavens rejoice and all who live there; but for you, earth and sea, disaster is coming -- because the devil has gone down to you in a rage, knowing that he has little time left.'

As soon as the dragon found himself hurled down to the earth, he sprang in pursuit of the woman, the mother of the male child,

but she was given a pair of the great eagle's wings to fly away from the serpent into the desert, to the place where she was to be looked after for a time, two times and half a time.

So the serpent vomited water from his mouth, like a river, after the woman, to sweep her away in the current,

but the earth came to her rescue; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river spewed from the dragon's mouth.

Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, who obey God's commandments and have in themselves the witness of Jesus.

And I took my stand on the seashore.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

While the dragon is fighting against the woman (the Church) and her Son, the angel Michael enters the stage and, together with his angels, begins a very violent battle against Satan. The angel defeats Satan and hurls him from heaven into the depths of hell. Within the space of a few lines, the author gives five different definitions of the dragon: he is "that ancient serpent," the "Devil" (the one who divides), Satan (the adversary), the "deceiver," and finally, the "accuser." Against other, more pessimistic, visions of the universe, the author is reaffirming the centrality of God, Christ, and humanity with respect to the power of the devil. The words Jesus spoke to his disciples after their mission of evangelisation come to mind: "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning" (Lk 10:18). The fight between Michael and Satan, which was already underway when history began, continues throughout its entire course. Nonetheless, Satan’s power has been defeated once and for all "by the blood of the Lamb," and he no longer has absolute power over the world. The cry from heaven heard by John echoes Jesus’ cry on the cross: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah." The witness of Christian martyrs is united to the mystery of Jesus’ Passover. Paul wrote to the Colossians: "I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col 1:24). The Christian Community participates in the redeeming work of the Lamb, especially through the witness of the martyrs. Together with all the believers who spend their lives for the Gospel, martyrs overcome the power of Satan and save the world from violence. Nonetheless, Satan does not give in but continues his battle. Once his attack on the Messiah has failed, he lashes out against the mother. But the two wings of the great eagle allow the Mother to flee. In the two wings we see the two Testaments: every time we are nourished by the Holy Scriptures we are freed from our lowliness and carried towards God. It is the continuous exodus of the Church and of every disciple who leaves evil behind and sets off towards the kingdom of love and peace. God saves the woman (the Church) from the power of Evil. But history continues to be a battlefield on which the duel between the dragon and the woman - between the offspring of the serpent, that is, sinful humanity, and the offspring of the woman, that is, the just and the faithful (Gen 3:15) - continues unceasingly. Nonetheless, the book of Revelation once again invites us to hope. Satan knows "that his time is short." Final victory is not his; eternity and all of its glory belongs to God and his chosen ones. Satan continues to fight against "those who keep the commandments of God." But he will not prevail. He is forced to remain constrained by his limits "on the sand of the seashore."

Memory of the Church