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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

James 1, 19-27

Remember this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to listen but slow to speak and slow to human anger;

God's saving justice is never served by human anger;

so do away with all impurities and remnants of evil. Humbly welcome the Word which has been planted in you and can save your souls.

But you must do what the Word tells you and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.

Anyone who listens to the Word and takes no action is like someone who looks at his own features in a mirror and,

once he has seen what he looks like, goes off and immediately forgets it.

But anyone who looks steadily at the perfect law of freedom and keeps to it -- not listening and forgetting, but putting it into practice -- will be blessed in every undertaking.

Nobody who fails to keep a tight rein on the tongue can claim to be religious; this is mere self-deception; that person's religion is worthless.

Pure, unspoilt religion, in the eyes of God our Father, is this: coming to the help of orphans and widows in their hardships, and keeping oneself uncontaminated by the world.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostle underlines the decisiveness of listening to the Word of God that has consequences also in our speaking. Those who listen will be slow to speak and anger. James continues the reasoning of the previous passage highlighting that if we listen speak after reflecting, (this is the meaning of "slow to speak) we can dominate the instinct that easily leads to anger. How many times indeed, anger is the direct consequence of the inability to hear and speak after reflecting. There is a relationship between our readiness to listen to God and our responsibility of speaking with others: who comprehends the strength of the Word is without a doubt more attentive to the words that he or she speaks. Why do we only hear without acting hear? Often because we believe that everything is only for our use and therefore the word ends up dying within us. Or we hear, but not with the heart in a personal way. The labour to put the word of God into practice helps us to understand it better. Isn’t it true that the Gospel acquires meaning and depth - that is we understand it better - right when we live it and we communicate it to others? A word not born of a heart radiated by the Gospel can easily hurt those who listen. For this reason, even those who consider themselves pious, are exhorted to hold their tongue. Jesus also warned his disciples that God would keep count of every useless word they utter (see Mt 12:36). James, therefore, advises us to welcome "with meekness the implanted word." It is a matter of welcoming the Word of God into our heart so that it may work unhindered by our pride, distractions and coldness. And for this reason, James clarifies what it means to meekly welcome the Gospel: to be "doers of the word, and not merely hearers." Every day we must listen to the Gospel and put it into practice, otherwise we are like one who listens, but promptly forgets, like one who looks at himself in a mirror and right afterwards forgets what he looks like. It is necessary, then, to read Scripture with spiritual eyes, that is, with eyes guided by the Spirit of the Lord, to grasp the profound meaning that it conveys to our hearts. The Word of God is the mirror of our life. Looking at ourselves for one moment and then forgetting, we should always seek our truest and more human image by looking always to the Word of God. True faith and religions do not lie in abstract speeches but in concrete love that expresses itself in helping the orphans and the widows, keeping oneself "undefiled", that is not polluted by pride and love for oneself. Orphans and widows were numerous at the time and they were considered the poorest as the books of the First Testament say. They are the image of the poor. James underlines that there is a link between taming the tongue and care for the poor. Both are a sign of true religion. For those who do not tame the tongue and act following their instinct, are not able to stop in front of the needs of others and live thinking only of themselves and defending their certainties. This is why "true religion," that puts human beings in relation with God, becomes true in a love that is not abstract but that becomes concrete for those who need it most: the poor.

Prayer for peace