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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Memorial also of Ananias, who baptized Paul, preached the Gospel and died a martyr. Today the week of prayer for the unity of Christians ends. Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of Christian communities in Asia and Oceania

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 16, 15-18

And he said to them, 'Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation.

Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.

These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues;

they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today the Church remembers the conversion of Saul from Tarsus, an event that marked Christian history in a unique way. Saul, carrying the letters from the High Priest, wanted to persecute the Christians in Damascus with the utmost rigour. While Paul was approaching the city, a light suddenly surrounded him; blinded, he fell on the ground and heard a voice calling him twice by name: “Saul, Saul.” He did not see anything; he only heard a voice that called him by name. The fact of being called by name is in certain moments a decisive and unforgettable experience. Bewildered, Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The answer came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” We do not know what Paul’s first thought was; certainly he may have thought that you cannot persecute a dead person; evidently, Jesus was alive. He got up but he could not see anything; taken by hand by his companions, astonished at what had happened, Paul went to Damascus as Jesus’ voice had ordered him. What happened to Paul? It was not a matter, as it is generally thought, of a conversion from one religion to another: the Christian group was still entirely within Judaism and nobody was thinking of another religion. It was a much deeper event for Paul, an event that radically changed him; it was a true rebirth. This is why Paul’s fall is one of those emblematic episodes that question the life of each person, as if to say that if “we do not fall”, if “we do not touch the ground,” we will hardly understand what it means to live. Unfortunately we are all too used to relying on ourselves, to insisting on our ego. Not only do we not fall on the ground, we do not even look down, towards the sorrow of others. In truth, each of us is a poor man or a poor woman. Only when we acknowledge our poverty can we take the way of wisdom. Indeed, pride brings us to ruin, to clash with others, and to violence. On the contrary, humility generates us anew, makes us more understanding, more in solidarity with others, more human. Paul’s fall is a sign for all, for those who believe and for those who do not, for it makes all more human and therefore open to salvation. Paul, fallen from his own self, welcomed the Gospel and became a universal man. His preaching overcame not only the ethnic Jewish borders, but also any border. The words of the risen Jesus to the Eleven, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” became the gist of Paul’s mission. “Woe to me if I do not evangelise,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians and he went to preach the Gospel till the ends of the earth. And everywhere, his proclamation was confirmed by wonders and if he took in his hand some snakes, like it happened in Malta, he was not affected by it. Even today Paul asks us to understand the primacy of evangelisation in the life of Christian communities.

Memory of the Apostles