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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 21,28-32

'What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He went and said to the first, "My boy, go and work in the vineyard today." He answered, "I will not go," but afterwards thought better of it and went. The man then went and said the same thing to the second who answered, "Certainly, sir," but did not go. Which of the two did the father's will?' They said, 'The first.' Jesus said to them, 'In truth I tell you, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, showing the way of uprightness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even after seeing that, you refused to think better of it and believe in him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The parable we just heard is unique to Matthew. Right after the high priests question him about his authority, the Lord tells the parable of the father who sends two sons to work in the vineyard. The first says "no" but then goes, while the second does just the opposite. Jesus concludes that obviously it is the first and not the second who does the father’s will. The first had said "no", but then repented and went into the vineyard. Who knows? Perhaps he remembered his father’s face, pained by the foolishness of his response. Or maybe he noticed what a deplorable state the vineyard was in. Either way, in the end he repents and goes. Repentance - as is underlined many times in the Bible - erases a great number of sins. It is not bad not to want to do something, it is bad to keep saying "no"; it is not bad to feel the bite of one’s own selfishness, it is bad to let oneself be dominated by it. This Gospel parable points out the stark difference between "doing" and "saying" that often characterize our lives. In fact, this contradiction does not divide some people from others, as if on one side there were those who do and on the other those who say. In truth, the words of the Gospel encourage us to look into our hearts and our lives. If we do so, we will immediately see that this parable divides us internally, that is, it is about the life of each one of us. How often do we only spend words? How often do we fill our mouths with "wisdom" while our days are empty of love? The Lord reminds us that what counts is behaviour, that is: love, mercy, friendship, and solidarity. He has already said the same thing elsewhere: "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21). Faith does not mean pronouncing doctrinally correct formulas, but putting into practice the Gospel of love with everyone, even our enemies. The world of today does not need many words; it needs men and women who can demonstrate the truth and beauty of the Gospel of love with their lives. Jesus did it first. He left heaven and came to earth as a child, strong only with his Father’s love.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord