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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

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James 5, 1-6

Well now, you rich! Lament, weep for the miseries that are coming to you.

Your wealth is rotting, your clothes are all moth-eaten.

All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be a witness against you and eat into your body. It is like a fire which you have stored up for the final days.

Can you hear crying out against you the wages which you kept back from the labourers mowing your fields? The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Sabaoth.

On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart's content.

It was you who condemned the upright and killed them; they offered you no resistance.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

James seems to be referring to the "woes" that Jesus pronounced against the rich and those who live dissolute lives: richness are not only consumed by the rust of life and destroyed by the fire of death, they are also incapable of giving happiness to those who possess them. Besides, we often read in the Gospel that happiness does not come from the goods we possess but from the love we have for the Lord and for our brothers and sisters. James warns those who may have forgotten the urgency for conversion that the "last days" began at the moment of Jesus’ resurrection. God’s judgment is already present, and it concerns every Christian and every human being from now on. Riches are clearly connected to injustice and exploitation. In a strong and direct way, the apostle invites us to accumulate treasures in heaven, treasures that are linked to other people and free from the logic of possession. It is an invitation not to submit to the dictatorship of materialism that makes all people slaves of money and riches and for which they are often ready to do anything, even to tramping over everyone, especially the poor. The criterion used by God, however, turns every worldly measure upside-down, as we read in the Magnificat when Mary sings, "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty." James’ invitation to "weep" and "wail" is an exhortation to convert to God and to live a more just and generous life. These words are addressed to everyone: James, like the prophets of the First Testament, from Amos to Isaiah, has before his eyes the injustice and violence that crush the poor, and he reacts extremely harshly, affirming that every injustice will be punished by the Lord who hears the cry of the poor and oppressed. The Lord demands justice in a world where the rich live for themselves and are indifferent to the poor who die. He will come down to defend them and condemn the rich and the oppressors, as is affirmed in the whole of Scripture. All people, especially the disciples of Jesus, are called to help those who suffer the most from life’s injustices. To be indifferent is to comply with the unjust and the violent.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord