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The Everyday Prayer

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

Feast of the Black Christ of Esquipulas in Guatemala, venerated throughout all of Central America

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 1, 29-39

And at once on leaving the synagogue, he went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew.

Now Simon's mother-in-law was in bed and feverish, and at once they told him about her.

He went in to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to serve them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils.

The whole town came crowding round the door,

and he cured many who were sick with diseases of one kind or another; he also drove out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house and went off to a lonely place and prayed there.

Simon and his companions set out in search of him,

and when they found him they said, 'Everybody is looking for you.'

He answered, 'Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can proclaim the message there too, because that is why I came.'

And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out devils.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Gospel describes Jesus’ intense activity in Capernaum over two consecutive days. Jesus is not alone anymore; he has chosen to communicate the Gospel of the kingdom together with the group of disciples he has gathered. With them, Jesus forms a special family that is founded not on the ties of blood, but on commitment to him and his plan of love. The evangelist describes him entering the disciples’ house in Capernaum. They immediately bring him to Peter’s elderly mother-in-law, lying in bed with a fever. Jesus approaches her, takes her by the hand, and raises her up from her bed, healed. The woman immediately “began to serve them.” Healing allows us to rise from the immobility of our selfishness and laziness so that we may serve Jesus and his community. It is not magic: Jesus took that elderly, weakened woman by the hand and lifted her up, giving her back her strength. This is the way we need to stay close to the elderly, starting with those who live at home and even more with those who are brought to live in institutions. The healing of Peter’s elderly mother-in-law is a lesson we will need to learn even today. The evangelist next describes a moving scene, “All who were sick or possessed with demons” in the city were gathered in front of the door of that house: “the whole city gathered around the door.” It is a scene that questions our Christian communities, our churches, and even our hearts. Why is it rare to see a scene like this today? Is it not against the Gospel to keep the weak, the immigrants, the gypsies, the mentally disabled, and those who ask for help far from our churches (and from our hearts)? Jesus came out the door and “cured many.” Mark does not write that he cured all of them, but many, as if to emphasize that the wounds of the many sick people we are not able to help still remain open. When evening and night have passed, Jesus gets up early in the morning and goes to an isolated place to pray. He starts his day with prayer, that is, with the encounter with the Father in a secluded and intimate place, far from crowds and confusion. It is in silence that he meets his Father, who is in heaven. To Jesus, prayer is not only the temporal beginning of the day; it is also its foundation. The new time proclaimed by the Gospel starts when the disciples turn their minds and hearts to God. Standing in front of the Lord in prayer, like children who expect everything from him, means starting a new way of living: not simply doing our will, as generally each of us does, but rather the will of the Father. And the Father wants everyone to be saved. This is why Jesus tells the disciples who wanted to keep him in the region that we must broaden our hearts to the ends of the earth. He does not stop in the usual places; he goes everywhere. And wherever he goes, a new, festive atmosphere is created, especially among the poor; even the lepers come to him and are healed.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets