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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 14, 12-14

Then he said to his host, 'When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbours, in case they invite you back and so repay you.

No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;

then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus turns to the Pharisee who has invited him into his home and urges him next time to invite those who cannot return the invitation because they are poor or cannot reciprocate for some other reason. Once again, Jesus completely overturns the rules of this world. Jesus contrasts the meticulous attention given to choosing guests with the generosity of inviting those who cannot repay, and lists the poor, the blind, the lame, and the crippled. All of these people who are excluded from any invitation are invited by Jesus to participate in the banquet that is to be prepared. It is a new way of thinking about human relationships, and Jesus is the first person who lives it out. Our relationships should be founded on gratuitousness, not reciprocity; they should be based on unilateral love like the love of God which embraces everyone, especially the poor. And happiness, contrary to popular expectations, is actually found by opening up life’s banquet to all of those who are excluded, without expecting anything in return. The true recompense, in fact, is being able to work for this field of love, fraternity, and solidarity. Moreover, only from this perspective can the world be built upon solid and peaceful foundations. On the other hand, the growing distance between those who sit at the table of life and those who are excluded, as it is happening in our time, threatens the roots of peace among the peoples. The Gospel message is exactly the opposite: practising the primacy of gratuitousness, as Jesus himself lived and preached, remains one of the most urgent tasks that Christians should master in this world at the beginning of the new millennium. It is a dimension which appears difficult to live in, but it is the only point of view which can keep the world, in the present difficult moment, from falling into the abyss of violence. The one who understands and lives in this dimension of love is blessed today and tomorrow will "be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Memory of the Poor