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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

1 Peter 5, 1-4

I urge the elders among you, as a fellow-elder myself and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, and as one who is to have a share in the glory that is to be revealed:

give a shepherd's care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it.

Do not lord it over the group which is in your charge, but be an example for the flock.

When the chief shepherd appears, you will be given the unfading crown of glory.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostle, in the end, turns to those responsible for the Gospel, and at that time they were probably the elders. And he too designates himself as "an elder himself." Peter has just written about every believer’s responsibility to perform his or her daily task. This is all the more valid for the elders who are called to guide and care for the communities. He tells them, above all else, to "Tend the flock of God!" Certainly, Peter was recalling the command, "tend my sheep" (Jn 21:16), that Jesus gave him along the shores of Lake Tiberias after his resurrection. Most of all, he had in mind Jesus’ compassion for the crowds that he met daily and that "were like sheep without a shepherd" (Mk 6:34). The exhortation to tend the flock "not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it," is full of love and recalls the example of Jesus, the true good shepherd, who certainly did not impose his will on them. If anything, he embraced them with his mercy. Jesus repeated many times that he had not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life for others. The elders should have Jesus’ example before their eyes so that they themselves may be exemplars of this love. The elders (presbyteroi) were in charge of the community. However, there is a responsibility, which we can call pastoral, that concerns all of the faithful. Every disciple, in actuality, is a "pastor" for others in a certain way, in the sense that one should be concerned for one’s brothers and sisters, as well as for the poor. The vast theme of the laity’s responsibility should not be intended as a kind of a claim to a right, but as a commitment to being responsible for others. Although the pastoral ministry is given to some in a specific manner, the commandment to love is given to all of us and makes us guardians of others. It is the commandment God demanded from Cain since the very beginning: keep watch of the life of his brother; something he did not do. This is why the disciples should feel responsible for others so that all may grow in faith and love. And each one, according to his or her charism, should work for the good of all in the community.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord