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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

Matthew 21, 23-27

He had gone into the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him and said, 'What authority have you for acting like this? And who gave you this authority?'

In reply Jesus said to them, 'And I will ask you a question, just one; if you tell me the answer to it, then I will tell you my authority for acting like this.

John's baptism: what was its origin, heavenly or human?' And they argued this way among themselves, 'If we say heavenly, he will retort to us, "Then why did you refuse to believe him?";

but if we say human, we have the people to fear, for they all hold that John was a prophet.'

So their reply to Jesus was, 'We do not know.' And he retorted to them, 'Nor will I tell you my authority for acting like this.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel presents Jesus at the end of his life, while he is engaged in an intense argument with the religious and intellectual authorities of his time. He had returned to Jerusalem and as was his custom had gone to the temple to show himself as the Messiah, as the one sent by God. The high priests and elders of the people had understood that Jesus was not simply presenting a new doctrine or a new religious thought. Rather, he was presenting himself as the saviour of the Jewish people from all slavery. The day before, banishing the merchants from the atrium of the temple and healing many sick he had taken possession of it. Now he started teaching there. We could say that he had fulfilled the first messianic sign (the healing of the sick) and now he added the other, that is he spoke with authority to the people, demanding of them to listen and to obey. In truth, from the beginning of his preaching, the Gospels note that Jesus taught with authority. His preaching was, in fact, not just a simple presentation of some truths. He demanded that listeners change their hearts, that they truly transform their lives. Before this authoritative request, the high priests and elders of the people ask Jesus for a clear and convincing sign. At this point Jesus takes a cue from their own objections, and through the example of John the Baptist, he affirms again that the way to salvation is in listening to the Word of God and in the conversion of the heart. The objectors do not know how to respond. What is really hidden behind that “we do not know” is a much more radical “we do not want this.” Doesn’t this happen with us too? How many times after listening to the Gospel—or after being called to change some attitude of our lives that are not evangelical, do we respond—”I can’t” or “I won’t do it,” while in reality we should say: “We don’t want to.” Nearing Christmas, let us pay more attention to the Word of God that continues to speak to our lives and let us allow the voice of the Lord to enter into our hearts and bear fruits of love, peace, mercy, forgiveness and clemency.

Prayer for peace