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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Proverbs 22, 17-29

Give ear, listen to the sayings of the sages, and apply your heart to what I know,

for it will be a delight to keep them deep within you to have them all ready on your lips.

So that your trust may be in Yahweh, it is you whom I wish to instruct today.

Have I not written for you thirty chapters of advice and knowledge,

to make you know the certainty of true sayings, so that you can return with sound answers to those who sent you?

Do not despoil the weak, for he is weak, and do not oppress the poor at the gate,

for Yahweh takes up their cause, and extorts the life of their extortioners.

Do not make friends with one who gives way to anger, make no one quick-tempered a companion of yours,

for fear you learn such behaviour and in it find a snare for yourself.

Do not be one of those who go guarantor, who go surety for debts:

if you have no means of paying your bed will be taken from under you.

Do not displace the ancient boundary-stone set by your ancestors.

You see someone alert at his business? His aim will be to serve kings; not for him the service of the obscure.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage contains a collection of proverbs whose content and meaning appear to finish at 24:22 but actually, they resonate until the very end of chapter 24. The passage presents us with recommendations on practical living that we had found elsewhere in Proverbs. The text explains that there are thirty mottos, "Have I not written for you thirty sayings..." It’s good how the Word of God is willing to address even the minutiae of life--almost as if God’s Word wanted to give us a wise response to the myriad circumstances of life instead of letting us follow fixed, habitual behaviours. Habit and instinct often speak of a lazy interior life of men and women who do not stop to reflect or who cannot accept changing their own behaviours and decisions. There are five comportments that are proposed to our reflection: one’s attitude towards the poor, irascible people, the issue of security for the other, boundaries, and our work ethic. The Word of the Lord warns us against exploiting the poor. Immediately what comes to mind are the many situations and conditions of poverty in our society and around the world. Often we witness an almost fierce dynamic against the poor which seeks not only to take away the little that they have (i.e. the evacuations of the Roma people and the exploitation of foreigners) but also to scorn them and subject them to violence as if they had no rights whatsoever. As in other parts of the Bible, this passage underscores the fact that God will come down to their defence: God will exact a justice that human beings do not observe: he will even take away the possessions of those who have committed injustice. Anger is the next theme the text presents. The text puts us on guard against spending time with people who are habitually angry because we can easily follow their example. How easy is it to be caught up in anger. In terms of lending, the text warns to reflect well about guaranteeing a debtor if we have no possibility of paying the debt. Certainly, it is not an invitation for greed as much as a wise, cautionary measure. Then, the passage draws us to what must have been a controversial theme: the issue of boundaries of lands. And in the end there is a useful guideline for the youth preparing to undertake work: it is an invitation to be hardworking and solicitous and industrious if one wants to have a profitable job, as the one in the service of the king.

Sunday Vigil