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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

Proverbs 14, 20-35

The poor is detestable even to a friend, but many are they who love someone rich.

One who despises the needy is at fault, one who takes pity on the poor is blessed.

Plan evil -- isn't this to go astray? Those who plan for good can earn faithful love and constancy.

Hard work always yields its profit, idle talk brings only want.

The crown of the wise is their riches; the folly of fools is folly.

A truthful witness saves lives, whoever utters lies is a deceiver.

In the fear of Yahweh is powerful security; for his children he is a refuge.

The fear of Yahweh is a life-giving spring for eluding the snares of death.

Large population, monarch's glory; dwindling population, ruler's ruin.

Mastery of temper is high proof of intelligence, a quick temper makes folly worse than ever.

The life of the body is a tranquil heart, but envy is a cancer in the bones.

To oppress the weak insults the Creator, kindness to the needy honours the Creator.

For evil-doing, the wicked will be flung headlong, but in integrity the upright will find refuge.

Wisdom resides in an understanding heart; she is not to be found in the hearts of fools.

Uprightness makes a nation great, by sin whole races are disgraced.

A king shows favour to a wise minister, but anger to one who shames him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Wisdom means also showing some behaviours whose judgment is up to the reader. At verse 20, for example, we read, "The poor is disliked by their neighbours, but the rich have many friends." This is an assessment that we, too, can share. Sometimes the poor fight among themselves while the wealthy attract many friends. Indeed, misery renders life bitter and makes relationships difficult yet riches attract people because of the advantages it offers. For everyone though, wisdom can be the real wealth because foolishness only begets folly: "The crown of the wise is their wisdom, but folly is the garland of fools." In this proverb, no distinction is made between the poor and the rich. Everyone can acquire wisdom. The passage refers twice to an important sentiment that at times seems to have disappeared from our habitual behaviours: kindness. Verse 21 says, "Those who despise their neighbours are sinners, but happy are those who are kind to the poor." At verse 31, "Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honour him." In both verses, kindness is requested towards the poor. Whoever is kind is blessed and happy. As the Beatitudes proclaim, "Blessed are the poor." Therefore, we could say that those who love the poor and are kind to them are also blessed. They participate in the same joy as the poor. Isn’t this what we experience when we become friends with the poor or seek to help them in their difficulties? The passage adds something even more profound: to be kind to the poor has something to do with God and it is not simply an act towards them. When we concern ourselves with the poor, we fulfil creation because we honour God, whereas when we oppress the poor, we offend the Lord. This, too, is wisdom! Finally, the passage speaks twice of "the fear of God" that we have already seen as considered the principle of wisdom. Verses 26-27 explain, "In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and one’s children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, so that one may avoid the snares of death." It is not from our own reasons and certainties but from the fear of the Lord that we gain strength and life. The fear of the Lord implies being dependent on Him and on his life-giving Word. Without this fear, everything becomes permissible since we become our own boss and adjudicator. At that point, not only do we not listen to God’s voice speaking to us, but we will not welcome the voice of others.

Prayer for the Sick