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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Luke 9, 22-25

He said, 'The Son of man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.'

Then, speaking to all, he said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.

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

What benefit is it to anyone to win the whole world and forfeit or lose his very self?


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The passage of the Gospel of Luke, together with the one of Deuteronomy (30:15-20), puts us on the path to this time of Lent. The Deuteronomy passage reports part of Moses’ third discourse to the people of Israel and presents two ways, the one of good and the one of evil. The Lord has much respect for our freedom. He does not force us to goodness; He proposes it to us because goodness can be only the result of love. He says, “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.” Yes, life means loving, while death means following evil. If we go away from God and His commandments, He warns us, “I declare to you today that you shall perish.” In this time it is worth reflecting on the responsibility that each of us has: the choice of the path of good or evil. We can choose. Nowadays everything is justified, even evil. But good and evil, as well as love and its opposite, are the result of a choice, or maybe of many little choices which become established habits. Jesus himself returns to this subject in the passage we have read, saying, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” Obviously we all strive to think about ourselves, to get rid of all difficulties, problems, anguishes and above all to think of ourselves, of our interests and our success. It is the evil instinct of self-love that is rooted in the heart of every human being. This instinct, the instinct that drives us to think only of ourselves, is accompanied by the disregard of others, and often even hostility towards them, especially if we feel them as potential competitors or enemies. Jesus warns: “What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?” Thirst of gain at any cost seems like a fever that never leaves us and leads us to ruin. How many lives are sacrificed on the altar of profit! How many families and relationships are burned to give primacy to gain! Jesus teaches another way. And he does not teach with words, but by his example. He goes to Jerusalem to save us, to love us, even though this choice also involves suffering and death. But on the “third day” he will be risen to a new and full life. Jesus is not the powerful and strong Messiah people would like. He came to give his life as a ransom for all. His strength is not that of men and women, but that of love that knows no bounds, not even the limit of self-love. Turning to all those who follow him, Jesus explains what are the demands of following the Gospel: moving away from selfishness, giving up exclusive self-love, abandoning self-centred habits and always imitating Jesus’ lifestyle, i.e. living no longer for themselves, but for the Lord and for others. This is the meaning of the exhortation to deny oneself and take up one’s cross. It is the way of the true gain. Those who want to save their life, that is habits and self-centred traditions, will lose it. Salvation does not consist in having many things but in being big hearted and passionate for the Gospel.

Memory of the Church