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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of Saints Basil the Great (330-379), bishop of Caesarea and Father of monasticism in the East, and of Gregory Nazianzus (330-389), Doctor of the Church and Patriarch of Constantinople.

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

John 1, 19-28

This was the witness of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, 'Who are you?'

He declared, he did not deny but declared, 'I am not the Christ.'

So they asked, 'Then are you Elijah?' He replied, 'I am not.' 'Are you the Prophet?' He answered, 'No.'

So they said to him, 'Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?'

So he said, 'I am, as Isaiah prophesied: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord. Make his paths straight!'

Now those who had been sent were Pharisees,

and they put this question to him, 'Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the Prophet?'

John answered them, 'I baptise with water; but standing among you -- unknown to you-

is the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal.'

This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.


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 we heard today brings us to the beginning of Jesus’ public life and introduces us to John the Baptist. He is the first person we meet in the fourth Gospel. A just and austere man, he lives in the desert, removed from the religious and political capital of Israel. And yet, many flock to him to receive a penitential baptism so as to be regenerated to a more serene life. Everybody esteems him, even to the extent of calling him the Messiah, Elijah, or some great prophet. There was an extraordinary need for hope at that time. Even today, we are overwhelmed by a hectic life that takes from us the ability to smile and to live serenely. Aren’t we in the same need for hope? We need the help of someone. But we must be advised that only Jesus, and not anyone else, is able to save us. The Baptist understood this. In fact, when people thought that he was the "saviour," he humbled himself and insisted in saying, "I am not the prophet, I am not the Messiah." He describes himself simply by saying, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’" What does one voice matter? Little more than nothing. And yet, John the Baptist’s words are not in vain: they come from a just heart. They are true words that reach our hearts. This is his strength, a fragile strength that is able to touch the heart of whoever listens. John is a figure of the witnesses of the Gospel; we can say that he is a figure of the Church: a voice that shouts Jesus to men and women. John does not belong to himself. He is not, nor does he want to be, at the centre of attention. He points out the other, the Lord. The Church does not belong to itself either; nor does it live for itself. It lives to lead people to Jesus. This is also true for every disciple, whether a minister or a simple believer: we are all called to bring others to Jesus, not towards ourselves. The disciples are not protagonists who want to attract people to them; rather, they are believers who point out the Lord to others. This is both the disciples’ vocation and joy.

Prayer for the Sick