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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Saints Cyrillus and Methodius, fathers of the Slavic Church and patrons of Europe.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Proverbs 20, 1-30

Wine is reckless, liquor rowdy; unwise is anyone whom it seduces.

Like the roaring of a lion is the fury of a king; whoever provokes him sins against himself.

It is praiseworthy to stop short of a law-suit; only a fool flies into a rage.

In autumn the idler does not plough, at harvest time he looks -- nothing there!

The resources of the human heart are like deep waters: an understanding person has only to draw on them.

Many describe themselves as people of faithful love, but who can find someone really to be trusted?

The upright whose ways are blameless -- blessed the children who come after!

A king enthroned on the judgement seat with one look scatters all that is evil.

Who can say, 'I have cleansed my heart, I am purified of my sin'?

One weight here, another there; here one measure, there another: both alike are abhorrent to Yahweh.

A young man's character appears in what he does, if his behaviour is pure and straight.

Ear that hears, eye that sees, Yahweh has made both of these.

Do not love sleep or you will know poverty; keep your eyes open and have your fill of food.

'No good, no good!' says the buyer, but he goes off congratulating himself.

There are gold and jewels of every type, but a priceless ornament is speech informed by knowledge.

Take the man's clothes! He has gone surety for a stranger. Take a pledge from him to the profit of persons unknown!

Bread is sweet when it is got by fraud, but later the mouth is full of grit.

Plans are matured by consultation; take wise advice when waging war.

The bearer of gossip lets out secrets; do not mingle with chatterers.

Whoever curses father or mother will have his lamp put out in the deepest darkness.

Property quickly come by at first will not be blessed in the end.

Do not say, 'I shall repay evil'; put your hope in Yahweh and he will keep you safe.

One weight here, another there: this is abhorrent to Yahweh, false scales are not good.

Yahweh guides the steps of the powerful: but who can comprehend human ways?

Anyone is trapped who cries 'Dedicated!' and begins to reflect only after the vow.

A wise king winnows the wicked and makes the wheel pass over them.

The human spirit is the lamp of Yahweh -- searching the deepest self.

Faithful love and loyalty mount guard over the king, his throne is founded on saving justice.

The pride of the young is their strength, the ornament of the old, grey hairs.

Wounding strokes are good medicine for evil, blows have an effect on the inmost self.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This chapter brings together a series of proverbs that embrace various aspects of life from the use of wine to anger, from laziness to the king’s responsibilities, from the use of goods to fraud in business. Every verse in and of itself makes sense and it is difficult to penetrate deeper in the various meanings. Indeed, we see the richness of this book that offers a series of practical teachings that lead us to acquiring true wisdom. It alludes to the king several times (v. 2,8,25,28). At that time, the king’s power was absolute. One of his principal duties was administering justice as a supreme court as it is said in verse 8, "A king who sits on the throne of judgment, winnows all evil with his eyes." Good government should be grounded in faithfulness to the Lord and to the requirements of divine law. In the book of Samuel and of Kings, the different kings of Israel and Judah were judged on the basis of their faithfulness. Indeed, the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the Northern Kingdom with Samaria (its capital) and the end of the Southern Kingdom, had all been attributed to the unfaithfulness of their rulers. This is why a king is presented as the defender of good, "A wise king winnows the wicked." The wellbeing of his or her people must be the guide of every wise governor. Once again, the text alludes to the quarrels and disputes that continue to show our foolishness while the wise seeks and promotes goodness for all around him and avoids paying evil for evil, "Do not say, ‘I will repay evil for evil’; wait for the Lord, and he will help you." If you feel surrounded by evil, do not think about repaying in kind; trust the Lord and He will free you from it. Knowing that evil is out there should not lead us to discouragement or resignation; it must excite in us a more genuine faith able to pray and ask God for his intervention. Since "Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?" (v. 9). Many times we think of ourselves as "clean" and better than others and we permit ourselves to judge harshly and look down on others. None of us has a clean conscience, at least not in front of the Lord; we do well to recognize our sins and ask forgiveness in an appropriate way. Finally, I would like to draw attention to the author’s emphasis on false and duplicitous speech and behaviour, "Diverse weights and diverse measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD" (v.10). "Differing weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good" (v.23). The double weights referred to in the two verses are problems related to falsification of measurements and in business but they also undoubtedly allude to human behaviour. This passage invites us to be honest and sincere in our relationships and treat everyone justly.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord