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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

John 5, 33-36

You sent messengers to John, and he gave his testimony to the truth-

not that I depend on human testimony; no, it is for your salvation that I mention it.

John was a lamp lit and shining and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.

But my testimony is greater than John's: the deeds my Father has given me to perform, these same deeds of mine testify that the Father has sent me.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this time of preparation for Christmas the Gospel continues to make us contemplate the figure of the Baptist. Today, through John the evangelist, we are given the words that Jesus said to the crowd while he taught in the temple. Jesus reminded them that they themselves had sent messengers from John while “he testified to the truth” (Jn 1:19-34). The austere prophet had risen to prepare the way for the Messiah. He was not the light, rather he who had to give witness to the light that was coming to illuminate the world, that is Jesus, as we read in the prologue to the fourth Gospel (Jn 1:8). Jesus wants to highlight that John’s witness was important. It is sufficient to think, we could add, that two of his disciples on hearing him say that Jesus “was the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29) chose to leave him to follow the young prophet of Nazareth. But Jesus claims that there is a witness in his favour that is a lot greater than the Baptist. It is the witness that comes from the Father himself in heaven. Jesus invites the people to reflect on the works he has undertaken: it is the Father that has commanded him to fulfil them. It is a theme that returns often in the fourth Gospel. For example, during his sermon to the temple, during the feast of the Dedication, Jesus says to the crowd, “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me” (Jn 10:25); and in the last supper with the disciples, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves” (Jn 14:11). Jesus’ mission is not one of personal self-centeredness, but of a mission received from on high that he must bring to completion. It is on this wavelength that the disciples of Jesus and his Church rest. We have not been called to exalt ourselves or to fulfil our personal projects. The mission of the disciple and of the entire church community is to fulfil the works of the Father. The Gospel warns us against a religious individualism made of practices and rites that make us feel right with our conscience. It is a typical pharisaic attitude. It is good to watch our self-centeredness carefully. Better still, it is a good rule to fear it because it makes us always put ourselves first, even in matters of faith. The work of the Father is one and we are all called to welcome it in our hearts and to commit ourselves to fulfil it: to help men and women of this world to know and to love Jesus. This is the way that saves us from the slavery of sin and even from death.

Memory of Jesus crucified