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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

Proverbs 2, 1-22

My child, if you take my words to heart, if you set store by my commandments,

tuning your ear to wisdom, tuning your heart to understanding,

yes, if your plea is for clear perception, if you cry out for understanding,

if you look for it as though for silver, search for it as though for buried treasure,

then you will understand what the fear of Yahweh is, and discover the knowledge of God.

For Yahweh himself is giver of wisdom, from his mouth issue knowledge and understanding.

He reserves his advice for the honest, a shield to those whose ways are sound;

he stands guard over the paths of equity, he keeps watch over the way of those faithful to him.

Then you will understand uprightness, equity and fair dealing, the paths that lead to happiness.

When wisdom comes into your heart and knowledge fills your soul with delight,

then prudence will be there to watch over you, and understanding will be your guardian

to keep you from the way that is evil, from those whose speech is deceitful,

from those who leave the paths of honesty to walk the roads of darkness:

those who find their joy in doing wrong, and their delight in deceitfulness,

whose tracks are twisted, and the paths that they tread crooked.

To keep you, too, from the woman who belongs to another, from the stranger, with her wheedling words;

she has left the partner of her younger days, she has forgotten the covenant of her God;

her house is tilting towards Death, down to the Shades go her paths.

Of those who go to her not one returns, they never regain the paths of life.

Thus you will tread the way of good people, persisting in the paths of the upright.

For the land will be for the honest to live in, the innocent will have it for their home;

while the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the faithless rooted out of it.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

How can we welcome God’s word? First of all, we need to return to being like children, as the Book of Proverbs continually invites us to do. We are children, and so we always need to listen. If we don’t listen then we get lost in ourselves. The beginning of the second chapter lays out a route to follow, that leads to listening better and that involves the entire person. We must listen with our ears, the primary place of listening; we must listen with our heart, which is the seat of our feelings and thoughts; and we must also use our voice, which expresses what is in our heart. Listening is the fruit of our efforts to search; it is not spontaneous, instinctive, and natural. Instinctively, we all listen to ourselves. Listening to God takes effort, work and ardent searching. Often we get sad when we consider the effort required for prayer and meditation on the word of God. And yet we spend so much energy on ourselves, pursuing our own self-realization and well-being. If material life includes tireless work, then the spiritual life includes it all the more. To stress how much we need to work and put ardent effort into this search, the text reads, "If you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures-then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. ... Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul." We need to seek wisdom as earnestly as we seek money and dig as if we were digging for buried treasure. Remember the parable in the Gospel about the kingdom of God, which Jesus compares to a pearl and a treasure buried in the field (Mt 13:44-45). The merchant does not hesitate to sell everything he owns just to possess that pearl and treasure. Whoever tries to take on this responsibility will bear enormous fruits. The word of God, from which wisdom comes, teaches us to reflect and to be prudent, and this will save us from evil ways. In a world in which we are trained to be in a hurry, it gets harder and harder to stop, to reflect and not to allow ourselves to be dominated by the impulse to have everything at once, incapable of waiting, of being patient, as if the difficulties and problems of life had become unbearable. Seeking God is also patience, reflection, meditation, and waiting. Not everything comes from us. The believer knows how to wait and keep watch in prayer, so that God may indicate the path to follow and so that we may learn the wisdom that helps us to discern and make wise choices, the ones that lead us to what is good.

Memory of the Church