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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Proverbs 28, 1-28

The wicked flees when no one is pursuing, the upright is bold as a lion.

A country in revolt throws up many leaders: with one person wise and experienced, you have stability.

The wicked oppresses the weak: here is a devastating rain -- and farewell, bread!

Those who forsake the law sing the praises of the wicked, those who observe the law are angered by them.

The wicked do not know what justice means, those who seek Yahweh understand everything.

Better someone poor living an honest life than someone of devious ways however rich.

An intelligent child is one who keeps the Law; an associate of profligates brings shame on his father.

Whoever increases wealth by usury and interest amasses it for someone else who will bestow it on the poor.

Whoever refuses to listen to the Law, such a one's very prayer is an abomination.

Whoever seduces the honest to evil ways will fall into his own pit. The blameless are the heirs to happiness.

The rich may think himself wise, but the intelligent poor will unmask him.

When the upright triumph, there is great exultation: when the wicked are in the ascendant, people take cover.

No one who conceals his sins will prosper, whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.

Blessed the person who is never without fear, whoever hardens his heart will fall into distress.

Like a roaring lion or a springing bear is a wicked ruler of a powerless people.

An unenlightened ruler is rich in rapacity, one who hates greed will lengthen his days.

A man guilty of murder will flee till he reaches his tomb: let no one halt him!

Whoever lives an honest life will be safe, whoever wavers between two ways falls down in one of them.

Whoever works his land shall have bread and to spare, but no one who chases fantasies has any sense.

A trustworthy person will be overwhelmed with blessings, but no one who tries to get rich quickly will go unpunished.

It is not good to show partiality, but people will do wrong for a mouthful of bread.

The person of greedy eye chases after wealth, not knowing that want will be the result.

Anyone who reproves another will enjoy more favour in the end than the flatterer.

Whoever robs father and mother saying, 'Nothing wrong in that!' is comrade for a brigand.

The covetous provokes disputes, whoever trusts in Yahweh will prosper.

Whoever trusts his own wit is a fool, anyone whose ways are wise will be safe.

No one who gives to the poor will ever go short, but whoever closes his eyes will have curses in plenty.

When the wicked are in the ascendant, people take cover, but when they perish, the upright multiply.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The wicked and the just correspond to two very different ways of approaching life that have nothing to do with each other. Juxtaposition is found not only in Proverbs and in the Books of Wisdom but throughout the Bible. The Word of God helps to create a boundary, not so much as to condemn whoever commits wicked deeds—because God wants even the wicked to convert and live, as the prophet Ezekiel says in Chapter 18—but to help humanity in making a choice. In a world accustomed to considering everything at the same level, which is not helpful in making choices, the believer knows that living without making decisions is impossible. Today’s passage begins and ends with two meaningful considerations: "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion" and "When the wicked prevail, people go into hiding, but when they perish, the righteous increase." Flight expresses fear, a sense of insecurity and uncertainty in the face of the other that is identified maybe as an enemy to be avoided; the just, to the contrary, manifest security because they trust in God. Indeed, if the wicked prevail—this is the fear of all the righteous — people will "go into hiding" (v. 12) because the power of the wicked overwhelms every thing. The verses that speak of a wicked ruler express this condition well: "Happy is the one who is never without fear, but one who is hard-hearted will fall into calamity" (v. 14). We are aware today of the extent to which evil can provoke greed in the ruler over a poor people. Two characteristics that lead men and women to commit evil are stinginess and greed (v. 22, 25). In any case, upright conduct concerns everyone: poor and wealthy. No one is justified by his or her social or economic standing if she or he commits evil. Even if the Bible defends the poor and the Lord is their primary defendant, they too must live according to the Word of God. This applies even today when the poor oppress and despise other poor people, or when the well-off forget their poor beginnings. As we can see, the Word of God saves no one from admonishment or correction, and so we entrust ourselves to it in order to choose a just way of life.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord