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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memorial of Laurindo and Madora, young Mozambicans who died because of the war. With them we remember all of the young people killed because of conflict and the violence of humanity

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 2, 36-40

There was a prophetess, too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years

before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer.

She came up just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

And as the child grew to maturity, he was filled with wisdom; and God's favour was with him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After having us contemplate the extraordinary encounter between Simeon and the baby Jesus, the Gospel of Luke gives us another encounter with the old prophetess Anna. She was an 84-year-old woman. She is spending what time she has left inside the temple. And we could say that for her that was nothing left to do but continue her days in the same way, until she reached death. In truth the encounter with this Child changes her life. If Simeon sang his canticle (the “Nunc Dimittis”) Anna instead receives a new energy, a new vocation, a new mission. Her years were no longer a weight to her, her old age no longer a shipwreck: she became the first preacher of the Gospel. Truly, nothing is impossible with God. Anna is an example for all of us: life changes if we truly meet Jesus. The years don’t count what we have done up until that point does not count. The only thing that counts is allowing the Lord to touch our hearts. What happened to Anna should make us think. Our communities, which often conform to the contemporary mentality and put the elderly apart, are questioned by this Gospel in order that they might help these older brothers and sisters discover the task that the Lord has given to them, perhaps only through prayer and the word. This woman “praised God,” or in other words, she prayed, and “she spoke of the child,” that is, she communicated the Gospel. The evangelist closes with a phrase that describes the return of Mary, Joseph and Jesus to Nazareth. And in three lines, worth thirty years, he summarizes the long “hidden life” of Jesus. We, who are ill with self-centeredness, should ask ourselves why Jesus does not begin his pastoral action immediately with signs and wonders. It is what in ancient times the apocryphal gospels tried to say, with the descriptions of Jesus’ childhood filled with miracles during his early years. The Church does not hold them to be true. The truth is otherwise. Jesus made himself “like men,” sings the hymn of Paul to the Philippians, so that salvation would not be something outside of everyday life. In Nazareth there are no miracles, no visions, nor do the crowds follow him. This brief sentence of the Gospel is like a summary of thirty years of ordinary life-- Jesus’ and ours. Yes, even we, in the ordinariness of our days, we must “grow and become strong, filled with wisdom; and under the favour of God,” exactly as Jesus did. And we will grow to the extent which, every day, we read page after page of the Gospel, trying to put it into practice.

Prayer of the Christmas season