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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 25, 1-13

'Then the kingdom of Heaven will be like this: Ten wedding attendants took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.

Five of them were foolish and five were sensible:

the foolish ones, though they took their lamps, took no oil with them,

whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps.

The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep.

But at midnight there was a cry, "Look! The bridegroom! Go out and meet him."

Then all those wedding attendants woke up and trimmed their lamps,

and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, "Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out."

But they replied, "There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves."

They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed.

The other attendants arrived later. "Lord, Lord," they said, "open the door for us."

But he replied, "In truth I tell you, I do not know you."

So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Our reading of the last part of the Gospel of Matthew today brings us the parable of the ten women who were waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom. The evangelist notes that five of them are foolish and five are wise. According to the story, wisdom consists of taking the lamp not just with its ordinary supply of oil but with extra oil to spare. Sure of themselves, the five foolish women think they have provided for everything. But the bridegroom is late and does not come until night, indeed, late at night. Obviously nothing is easier for these ten young women than to let themselves drop off into sleep. Indeed, it is easy to fall asleep in the midst of our own habits and our sense of security; it is easy to be overcome by the torpor of our love for our things, the only ones we pay any attention to. It must be noted that they all fall asleep. This is not where the distinction between wisdom and foolish is found; there are not heroes who stay away and cowards who fall asleep. All of them - everyone, even the best - are overcome by slumber. Therefore those ten women are all of us, often trapped in a greedy and sleepy way of life, without any great dreams or great ideals. Besides, what is often important for us is to find peace and quiet, not to bothered, and to avoid problems and annoyances. Or we only worry about our things: we exert ourselves and persevere only in defending ourselves. This is the night of a grey, unchanging life, without any spaces of light, without stars: it is the night of a widespread selfishness that is born in the depths of the hearts of all men and women, regardless of whether they are wise or foolish. But in this night all of the sudden a cry goes up announcing the arrival of the bridegroom. What is this cry? It is the cry that rises from the distant lands of poor countries; it is the cry that comes from people at war; it is the cry of the elderly people who are alone and asking for company; it is the cry of the poor who are ever more numerous and abandoned; it is the cry of those who are descending into anguish; it is also the cry of the Gospel and the preaching we hear on Sunday. Upon hearing this cry, everyone wakes up, maybe with a start and still half-asleep, but if we don’t have any spare oil it is easy to find an excuse not to answer. We will not know how to keep the small but indispensable flame of hope burning for those who are asking for comfort, company, love, and support. If we don’t have that extra oil in our hearts, that is, a little Gospel energy, we will neither respond nor will we be able to accompany others nor will enter into a life that is happy because it is meaningful. It will be no use to go and buy the oil in other shops. It won’t help because we will get back too late. There are moments in which, if we are not there, we miss our chance, that is, we leave a brother or sister alone, abandoning him or her in his or her sadness and despair.

Memory of Jesus crucified