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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 4, 13-17

Well now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow, we are off to this or that town; we are going to spend a year there, trading, and make some money.'

You never know what will happen tomorrow: you are no more than a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears.

Instead of this, you should say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we shall still be alive to do this or that.'

But as it is, how boastful and loud -- mouthed you are! Boasting of this kind is always wrong.

Everyone who knows what is the right thing to do and does not do it commits a sin.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The presumptuous security of the disciple is great foolishness, because it does not take into consideration the fragility and powerlessness from which we are made. The sentence reported by James was probably addressing the calculations of the rich, of his time as well as of ours, who were afraid of stopping and understanding their fragility and weakness. Like the fool in the gospel parable, they were looking for their own interest, they relied on it for their happiness and they thought they could use their lives and goods as they pleased. No, life is a gift from God’s hands and has meaning not in fretting but in losing oneself in love. James suggests that only God can give security and to him alone should we entrust our lives. A human being, far from being able to decide his future, does not even know what life has in store for him. Our false security and foolish superficiality only reveal our stupidity and the blindness of our eyes. "What is a human being?" James asks, and his response is severe: "For you are mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." He is referring not only to the vanity of life, but also to the poverty of humanity, and he is speaking in particular to those who do not seriously reflect on their existence. Today we flee from our weakness and fragility because we fear it. We almost have a sense of eternal youth and almightiness that leads us to despise the poor and the weak who instead of moving people to compassion cause fear and sadness. In fact people are sure of themselves and are not able to reflect on what they are because unable to stop. James invites his readers to turn to God and trust in the One who alone can give security. Following the Lord frees us from our toils and our restless "busyness". The Sermon on the Mount comes to mind: Jesus spoke about totally giving oneself over to the Lord who gives us everything, big or small. (cf. Mt 6:25-34). James puts the disciples on guard against presumption and pride in the same way that Paul did with the presumptuous Corinthians, "What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as it were not a gift?" (1 Cor 4:7). Believers entrust themselves totally to God and put their present and future into God’s hands.

Prayer for the Sick