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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In Israel today us the Memorial of the Shoah, in which the massacre of the Jewish people in the Nazi concentration camps is remembered.

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 8, 1-11

and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.

The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in the middle

they said to Jesus, 'Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery,

and in the Law Moses has ordered us to stone women of this kind. What have you got to say?'

They asked him this as a test, looking for an accusation to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger.

As they persisted with their question, he straightened up and said, 'Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.'

Then he bent down and continued writing on the ground.

When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until the last one had gone and Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained in the middle.

Jesus again straightened up and said, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'

'No one, sir,' she replied. 'Neither do I condemn you,' said Jesus. 'Go away, and from this moment sin no more.'


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Gospel tells us an extraordinary story of mercy. Jesus went to the temple early in the morning. While he was speaking to the crowd that had come to listen to him, all of a sudden the circle of listeners was broken by a group of Pharisees and scribes who throw at Jesus’ feet a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to the law of Moses, this woman should have been stoned. But if the law was clear, the violence that had driven those scribes and Pharisees to throw that sinner in front of Jesus was even clearer. In front of such a violent scene, Jesus remains silent, leans down, as if to join the woman on the ground, and begins to write in the sand. The Lord of the word does not speak; it does not condemn. He loves that woman and wants to free her from evil. It is the accusers who continue to cry out and yell. But they are not concerned with the law or even less with the sinner. They want to accuse Jesus in order to discredit him in front of the people while he is teaching in the temple, the heart of their authority. The woman is also silent. She is well aware of the fact that her life hangs by a thread, on the words that might come from the mouth of the young prophet. The accusers cannot stand this silence and insist that Jesus speak. Jesus finally raises his head, turns to the accusing Pharisees, and says: Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. Then he bends down again and continues to write. The evangelist notes somewhat wryly that they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Yes, they had come together - hatred always unites the servants of evil - but they left in a scattered way. It is a moment of truth. No one is left in the circle except Jesus and the woman: the merciful and the sinner. Jesus begins to speak in a tone he often took with difficult people: Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? ... Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again. Jesus, the only one without sin, the only one who could have thrown a stone at her, speaks words of forgiveness and love. This is the Gospel of love that disciples need to accept and communicate to the world at the beginning of this new century, a world that has such a great need for forgiveness. It is not a question of condoning sin. Far from it. Every disciple knows this for him or herself. We are all adulterers, men and women who have betrayed the Lord’s love. And yet he has always remained faithful to us, and with incredible mercy, continues to forgive us. Like that adulteress, we are faced with Jesus and his mercy. We are also invited to listen to Jesus’ command to the woman, Go your way, and from now on do not sin again. God’s mercy does not gloss over evil. It demands that we change our hearts and distance ourselves from sin and evil. Mercy is not just a feeling. Accepting mercy is the beginning of salvation, because it frees us from the slavery of evil.

Prayer for the Sick