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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

Luke 13, 18-21

He went on to say, 'What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with?

It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.'

Again he said, 'What shall I compare the kingdom of God with?

It is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

These two very brief parables are better understood if placed in the context of the growing opposition to Jesus on the part of the leaders of the people. Truly it is a destiny that belongs to the entire Christian history: the Gospel finds opposition in every generation that succeeds another in history. It is the novelty of Jesus’ love that clashes with the hardness of the human heart and above all with the destructive work of the prince of evil. Then as now we can in any case have doubts about the success of Jesus’ mission and that of the Christians. In Jesus’ time, moreover, both the disciples and the people conceived of a powerful Messiah according to the criteria of the world. Today we could rather think of the condition of minority of Christians in the world or in any case of the difficulty of communicating the Gospel in difficult conditions. How is it possible to establish the kingdom of God only with meekness and words? Isn’t the Gospel too weak to change a world that appears so much stronger? Is not the Word of God too simple for a world that is becoming more and more complex? These questions, better, these doubts receive an effective answer with Jesus’ two parables: the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the yeast and the dough. The kingdom of God--the world of peace and love, justice and mercy that Jesus came to open on earth begins not in a powerful or glamorous way, but like a small seed or a handful of yeast. Of course, it is important that the seed enter the soil and that the yeast be mixed with the dough. But both, the seed and the yeast, if they keep their strength and their energy, that is if they are not weakened by our laziness and our egocentrism, will bear fruit. Luke the evangelist is different than the other two Synoptics in this way; he underlines in the parable the idea of development, continuous growth. The seed - that is the Gospel preaching - will produce a great tree and the yeast will ferment the bread of society and of the world. Many people will be able to rest in the shade of the tree of love, and many people will be able to feed on the bread of mercy. But the seed must be smashed in the ground and the yeast must penetrate into the dough to ferment it. The decisive problem for the Gospel to be efficacious in its work is that it be communicated "without additions," as Francis of Assisi reminds us, in other words, it must be lived in its radicality.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord