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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 15, 1-10

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him,

and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'

So he told them this parable:

'Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it?

And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders

and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost."

In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.

'Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it?

And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost."

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

A large crowd is following Jesus, for the most part made up of people who are sick, abandoned, and gone astray, "tax-collectors and sinners," as Luke the evangelist explicitly observes with some pride. And all come seeking protection, healing, consolation. Obviously all this does not go unobserved by those responsible for religion in Israel: it causes much suspicion and above all perplexity, if not even scandal. This becomes more evident when Jesus eats with sinners and tax-collectors. Meals in common in fact openly contradict what the Pharisees preach and practise, that is, a religiosity marked by external ritualism which keeps believers physically far from those who are considered impure and sinful. For Jesus the relationship with tax-collectors and sinners is not a matter of chance, but a fundamental choice; it is part of his very mission and, we could say, of God’s behaviour. That is why Jesus responds to the accusation of the Pharisees not by talking about himself, but by talking about God, about how God acts. Thirty-two verses of the fifteenth chapter of Luke are dedicated to the narration of God’s merciful behaviour! The first ten verses of chapter fifteen tell the first two parables of mercy: the lost sheep and the lost coin. In the first one, God appears as a shepherd who has lost one of his one hundred sheep. The shepherd leaves the other ninety-nine that have stayed in the fold and sets off to find the one who has been lost. In the second parable, God is also like a housewife who has lost a coin and keeps looking for it until she finds it. Both the shepherd and the woman, after having found the sheep and the coin that had been lost, call their neighbours to celebrate. God does not desire the death, but the conversion, of sinners; in other words, he desires that they change their lives and return to Him. Therefore Jesus affirms: "I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." It is the feast God likes most. This is why He seeks out, even begs for, love. He does it with us too: let us allow ourselves to be found by Him.

Memory of the Church