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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 5, 43-48

'You have heard how it was said, You will love your neighbour and hate your enemy.

But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;

so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain to fall on the upright and the wicked alike.

For if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much?

And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional?

Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Love, the first commandment, lies at the heart of the lives of the disciples and the Church. The simple but profound words spoken by Jesus clearly demonstrate that this is the true way to be wise - not letting oneself be guided by hatred and revenge, feelings that, unfortunately, are instinctively present in each of us. Jesus goes so far as to propose to his disciples to love even their enemies. Jesus was the first person to live out this unsettling novelty: from high on the cross he forgave his executioners. This kind of love does not come from us, and it certainly does not rise naturally from our hearts: it comes from on high, from the Lord who Jesus says makes the sun rise on the just and the unjust, without distinguishing between them. None of us would merit being loved on our own merit. Yet, the Lord gives us his love gratuitously, without us meriting it. That is why he can ask his disciples: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." If we accept his love, we begin to follow the path of God’s own perfection. At a time when the logic of opposition and the search for enemies dominate, the command to love one’s enemies seems totally upsetting, but it is actually liberating. This Gospel passage frees us from the search for enemies and for someone to oppose, which has become an obsession. Jesus is well aware of the fact that life can contain difficult relationships in which the encounter with another can degenerate into conflict; he knows that enmity easily arises between men and women. But it is to defeat this infernal cycle that he speaks the words no one else had ever dared speak: "Love your enemies." This is the only way for love to truly conquer. The Gospel does not deny the complexity of life; it denies that the logic of opposition is inevitable and that it is the only pattern that relationships can follow: in fact, the one who is an enemy today can go back to being or become a friend.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord