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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

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 4, 12-17.23-25

Hearing that John had been arrested he withdrew to Galilee,

and leaving Nazara he went and settled in Capernaum, beside the lake, on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali.

This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali! Way of the sea beyond Jordan. Galilee of the nations!

The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light; on those who lived in a country of shadow dark as death a light has dawned.

From then onwards Jesus began his proclamation with the message, 'Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.'

He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and illness among the people.

His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them.

Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and Transjordan.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The arrest of John the Baptist was a major defeat. It meant the disappearance of the one great friend, the one great prophet close to Jesus. The eulogy Jesus gives for the Baptist after his death reveals how much he loved this preacher. But for now the prophet, a teacher of justice and honesty, was in Herod’s prison. This prison was a sinister warning for anyone who might have wanted to travel the same path as John. Jesus understands this perfectly. With the Baptist in prison, Jesus is more alone; it is a profound solitude. "He withdrew to Galilee," in the peripheral regions of the North, a land inhabited by poor, and often mistreated people. But he did not follow the temptation to return to Nazareth, to the peace and quiet of his old habits. Rather, he chose Capernaum, the capital of the region situated north-west of the lake between Magdala and Bethany, and began to preach, taking up John’s witness almost word for word: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." In that region, the light that Isaiah had foreseen finally arrived. The light came there, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, among the poor and the weak. At the beginning of this new millennium, the disciples of Jesus need to go into the many Galilees of this world and once again announce the Gospel of the kingdom of love and peace, starting among the poor. Even though he lived in Capernaum, Jesus began to walk along the streets of Galilee with the little community of disciples. The first thing he does - his first work - is to preach. Every disciple and every Christian community first needs to communicate the Gospel everywhere. Each Christian generation needs to say with Jeremiah, "your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart" (Jer 15:16). With the limitless generosity of God’s love, Jesus sows the Word in the hearts of those he encounters so that it might grow and bear fruits of love, mercy and peace. Noting that he preaches the good news of the Kingdom in the synagogues, Matthew places Jesus within the Hebrew religious tradition. Jesus lives on the richness of prayer and reflection on the Holy Scriptures, but at the same time he preaches that the Kingdom of God is happening within him and he confirms the truth of his preaching by healing. The kingdom of God takes its first steps with the strength of preaching that defeats the power of evil. Many sick people - both in spirit and body - are healed. It is the festival of the kingdom that Jesus creates wherever he goes.

Prayer of the Christmas season