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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

1 Peter 2, 18-25

Slaves, you should obey your masters respectfully, not only those who are kind and reasonable but also those who are difficult to please.

You see, there is merit if, in awareness of God, you put up with the pains of undeserved punishment;

but what glory is there in putting up with a beating after you have done something wrong? The merit in the sight of God is in putting up with it patiently when you are punished for doing your duty.

This, in fact, is what you were called to do, because Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow in his steps.

He had done nothing wrong, and had spoken no deceit.

He was insulted and did not retaliate with insults; when he was suffering he made no threats but put his trust in the upright judge.

He was bearing our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we might die to our sins and live for uprightness; through his bruises you have been healed.

You had gone astray like sheep but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Peter, after his appeal to live respectfully in civic life, turns now to the various members of the family, as if to prescribe [or set forth] a small manual on "family morals". His first words address the most humble of classes, the slaves. Slavery was commonly accepted and yet the universality of the Gospel includes also the slaves, asking them what the Word of God asks everyone, to follow and imitate Jesus beyond one’s social condition. In truth, the apostle, with an exquisitely Biblical sensibility, reads to the slaves the model of the ideal Christian: the disciple, in essence, is the "servant of God" (2:16), and the more he humbles himself by enduring suffering, the more he becomes like Jesus, who made himself a servant, as Paul also affirms in his letter to the Philippians. His words to the slaves are therefore also addressed to all believers and to each of us. Peter wants to convince the Christians that to "endure pain" means for the disciple also to "be aware of God" (2:19-20). This is why he points to the image of the suffering Christ, who we should always keep before our eyes: "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps." The apostle wants to encourage the slaves (and us too along with them) not to turn our gaze away from Jesus. If we suffer, Christ suffered all the more: "When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten." So far no other writer of the New Testament has presented the suffering of Christ as Peter has. Peter knows well the instinctive reactions that we have to pain and insults. Often in fact violence responds to violence. But the disciple must look up to the teacher and imitate him. In a world such as the one in which we live, ready to engage in conflict and commit violent acts, these words resonate with full force. And the disciples of Jesus, right now, should give to the world a testimony like the one of their Teacher. Perhaps this is the greatest gift that Christians can give to the people of today: the weak strength of a love that knows no boundaries. It is not, as some people insinuate, the good feeling of hopeless people who lack strength or identity, rather it is the conviction that only love can save; only love can gather those who are dispersed, making of them a family and defeating evil with good. This is what Jesus did, he was moved by the tired and weary crowds and, like a good shepherd, he gathered them around himself.

Sunday Vigil