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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of St. Sergii Radonezhsky of the Russian church. He founded the Lavra (monastery) of the Most Holy Trinity near Moscow. Memory of the evangelical pastor Paul Schneider who died in the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald on July 18, 1939.

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 12, 38-42

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. 'Master,' they said, 'we should like to see a sign from you.'

He replied, 'It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah.

For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and look, there is something greater than Jonah here.

On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look, there is something greater than Solomon here.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

How many times have even we, like those scribes and Pharisees, asked for a sign to calm us down and reassure us! It seems like a nice enough request, and yet it is full of ambiguity: we do not think that Jesus’ witness is enough, what he did and said, we seek reassurances to free s from the toil of choosing and deciding. And anyway, what sign is greater than the Gospel? Jesus himself could give no sign other than that of Jonah, in other words, the mystery of his death and resurrection. In fact, as Jonah was kept three days in the belly of the fish and was then made to go out and preach to Nineveh, so must the Son of man too be three days inside the earth and then will be raised by the Father in order to be saviour of all. Jesus is the sign given by God to humanity, a sign infinitely greater than that which Jonah was to Nineveh. And yet we are at pains to believe Jesus, to convert ourselves to him, to trust in his word. Even the queen of Sheba -Jesus continues—made a long trip to go hear the wisdom of Solomon. And we hardly even just open the Gospel and read it. Today there is need not of extraordinary signs, astonishing, esoteric, but of a strong and clear proclamation of the Gospel, together with a broad manifestation of mercy especially towards the weakest. These are the signs that Jesus himself put into action and which he has entrusted as a task to do to the disciples of every age. This Gospel age questions every disciple and every Christian community about their truly being a "sign" of love and mercy. It is the task which Jesus continues to entrust to his Church: to be light and salt of the earth.

Memory of the Poor