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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

Mark 8, 34-38

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?

And indeed what can anyone offer in exchange for his life?

For if anyone in this sinful and adulterous generation is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus has just revealed to the disciples the sufferings he is going to encounter in Jerusalem. He does not present himself as a triumphant Messiah according to the current mentality of his time. He is going to suffer greatly. He cannot keep silent on this point, which involves him personally, as well as his disciples. The evangelist Mark refers to Jesus speaking directly to the crowd following him: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Indeed, following Jesus requires denying one’s own ego, self-sufficiency, pride. We should “leave ourselves”, hold off from ourselves. This is the meaning of self-denial. In a world that teaches us to be self-centred in life, the invitation to Christians is clear: those who wish to follow Jesus must deny themselves. But this is not just an ascetic perspective on sacrifice, on mortification. Jesus proposes the way for a full, firm, good life for ourselves and for others. This is why he added, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” Those who turn in on themselves, keep their life to themselves, think only of their own affairs, will end up losing their life, making it sad and barren. On the contrary, life multiplies, that is, becomes much richer, when spent for the Gospel, following Jesus and helping to establish his kingdom of love. Following their Master, disciples take part in the dream of God Himself, for He wants salvation for all peoples. This way also entails the cross. History keeps on showing it. Just think of the millions of martyrs who during the twentieth century had to endure torture, harassment and death for the sake of Jesus and of his Church. Still today, at the beginning of this new millennium, the long line of those who save their life by offering it in love as he did, continues. All disciples should give up love for themselves and take the cross on themselves, the cross that the opponents of the Gospel put on them, and the one that burdens the lives of the weak, the poor, the condemned, the tortured, the excluded. All those who spend their life in the service of the Gospel and the poor -- Jesus says – will save their soul and reach the fullness of life.

Memory of Jesus crucified