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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

Luke 13, 10-17

One Sabbath day he was teaching in one of the synagogues,

and there before him was a woman who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that crippled her; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright.

When Jesus saw her he called her over and said, 'Woman, you are freed from your disability,'

and he laid his hands on her. And at once she straightened up, and she glorified God.

But the president of the synagogue was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, and he addressed all those present saying, 'There are six days when work is to be done. Come and be healed on one of those days and not on the Sabbath.'

But the Lord answered him and said, 'Hypocrites! Is there one of you who does not untie his ox or his donkey from the manger on the Sabbath and take it out for watering?

And this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has held bound these eighteen years -- was it not right to untie this bond on the Sabbath day?'

When he said this, all his adversaries were covered with confusion, and all the people were overjoyed at all the wonders he worked.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel presents us with Jesus who is teaching, as he usually did, in a synagogue. Among those present there was a woman who has been hunched over and deformed by arthritis. She had been living like this in very painful condition for eighteen years, and she was bent so low that she could not look people in the face. In return, no one lowered to look at her in the face. It is obviously not just a question of external behaviour. She was compelled to live bearing her ordeal all alone. And the hardness of others had as it were convinced her to resign herself to her fate. How many times does the indifference of others convince people to resign themselves to their condition! And how many women can we see in this woman, women are enslaved by violence and oppression! The woman is standing there, in front of Jesus. She cannot lift her gaze and she does not even dare to ask him for help as other women have. She is there; she has come to hear that good and meek prophet. But Jesus, upon seeing her, is moved and calls her to come near. He immediately tells her without saying so many words: "Woman, you are freed of your affliction." Maybe we can imagine Jesus bending down to look her in the eyes, as if to communicate all of his affection to her, and tell her that he was giving her back her dignity. In this small scene of Jesus stooped over this woman, we can understand what the attitude of believers should be towards the weak and ill, how we should look upon them. But there is another teaching, that is, the strength of the word that heals. Believers have received as a gift Jesus’ very strength: words said from the heart, with Jesus’ own compassion, are efficacious, they make one get up from being bent over oneself, as precisely what happened with that woman. But those who saw the scene did not let themselves be touched in the heart by what they had seen. The miracle even made the head of the synagogue angry. If the heart is full of oneself and of one’s own convictions, not even miracles are able to scratch its hardness. Jesus replies to the accusations of the head of the synagogue with the broadmindedness of the mercy he has come to bring to the earth. If the Pharisees, who are hard-hearted, are scandalized, the people, on the other hand, made merry: "The entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing." Blessed are the disciples who let themselves be wrapped up in the mystery of the Lord’s mercy because they will rejoice like the crowd back then.

Memory of the Poor