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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

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 4, 14-22

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside.

He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him.

He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read,

and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.

Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.'

And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said, 'This is Joseph's son, surely?'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel we have heard begins with a notation of the evangelist, Jesus returns to Galilee “filled with the power of the Spirit.” Jesus’ pastoral mission starts here, in this peripheral region. And he starts it not prompted by a spirit of heroic protagonism, as can easily happen to us, though our protagonist mood is always more trivial and narrow. Jesus is led by the Spirit of the Father. He did not come to do his own will but the Father’s who sent him. And, with that Spirit, Jesus presents himself in the synagogue in Nazareth. It certainly was not the first time that Jesus had entered there; Luke underlines that he used to go there. It was the first time, however, that he went with that Spirit and expressed himself in this way. After reading the passage from Isaiah that announces the coming of the Messiah and the deeds of liberation he was to perform, Jesus stood up and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It is Jesus’ first preaching and it should be the icon of each preaching: this is how scriptures should be read and explained. The reaction of those present was initially one of amazement and astonishment, but they began to be troubled with that feeling that each preaching should cause, as it demands, that we change our hearts. The inhabitants of Nazareth refuse that his words touch their hearts. They stop it first with their unbelief, and so their initial amazement turns into hostility. They even think about killing him. It is a temptation that is not foreign to us. And we should be careful. What had happened? The Nazarenes did not want to accept that one of them, who they knew as a child and had seen grow up, could possibly speak with authority over their life and demand the change of their habits and convictions. We, too, may resist the Gospel, maybe justifying ourselves with the fact that we already know it or that it is beautiful but difficult to put into practice and so on. But this is our way to throw Jesus down the cliff. By doing so the “year of favour” that Jesus began to fulfil, that is the end of every oppression in our lives and in the world, delays in growth because of us.

Prayer of the Christmas season