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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 21,23-27

He had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, 'What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?' In reply Jesus said to them, 'And I will ask you a question, just one; if you tell me the answer to it, then I will tell you my authority for acting like this. John's baptism: what was its origin, heavenly or human?' And they argued this way among themselves, 'If we say heavenly, he will retort to us, "Then why did you refuse to believe him?"; but if we say human, we have the people to fear, for they all hold that John was a prophet.' So their reply to Jesus was, 'We do not know.' And he retorted to them, 'Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel presents to us Jesus, now nearing the end of his days, in a fierce argument with the religious authorities and intellectuals of his time. He had returned to Jerusalem and, as was his custom, had gone to the temple to reveal himself as the Messiah, the one sent by God. The high priests and the elders of the people had understood that Jesus was not just explaining a new doctrine or a new way of thinking about religion. Rather, he was presenting himself as the Messiah, the saviour. In fact, a day earlier he had effectively taken control of the temple by expelling the merchants from the atrium and healing many sick people. Now he was starting to teach. We could say that he had already fulfilled the first messianic sign, healing the sick, and now he was adding the second: speaking with authority and asking people to listen and obey. In fact, the Gospels note that Jesus had been speaking with authority since the very beginning of his preaching mission. His preaching was not the simple presentation of a few truths. Jesus asked people to change their hearts; he demanded a true and complete transformation of their lives. And so the high priests and the elders of the people asked him to explain this claim; does what you do come from God or not? In other terms, are Jesus and the Gospel false? In response, Jesus builds on their own objections and, through the example of the Baptist, explains once again that the way to salvation is found in listening to the Word of God and converting one’s heart. His opponents do not know what to say in response. In truth, beyond their "we do not know" hides a much more radical "we do not want to know." Is this not what happens to us? How often after listening to the Gospel, or after someone urges us to change an attitude that is far from the Gospel, do we say, "I can’t" or "I just can’t do it," which means in truth, "I do not want to"? As we approach Christmas, let us carefully listen to the Word of God that continues to speak to our lives, and let us allow it to enter our hearts and bear fruits of love, peace, mercy, forgiveness, and meekness.

Memory of the Poor