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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 11, 20-24

Then he began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.

'Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Still, I tell you that it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on Judgement Day than for you.

And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be raised as high as heaven? You shall be flung down to hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet.

Still, I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on Judgement Day than for you.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We are struck by the passionate love of Jesus which, in turn, scolds our hardness of heart. We are sure that we should not rebuke or admonish anyone for anything because to do so interferes with the idol of individualism to which we are faithful. Actually we are lazy, full of judgment and reluctant to take the responsibility of helping who is sinning. Jesus loves and therefore helps to recognise one’s own sin. He reproaches his generation since they rejected the preaching of John the Baptist and are treating his in the same way. In other words, they were too deaf to welcome the redeeming design as presented by the Baptist. And now they also refuse Jesus’ message. Then Jesus turns to two towns of Galilee near Capernaum and addresses them indignantly: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” The accusation concerns the refusal of both towns to accept the preaching of Jesus, despite the significant number of miracles that he carried out among their inhabitants. It is not simply an accusation of a life led astray, as it was for Sodom and Gomorra, but of the obstinacy of the inhabitants of the two cities to welcome the Gospel into their hearts and to repent. Jesus remembers two ancient pagan cities, Tyre and Sidon, which would have repented and done penance if they had seen the miracles carried out in Chorazin and Bethsaida. There is a discomforting cry by Jesus, who sees the failure of years of his preaching and caring action towards all. There is a mystery in the inability to welcome; it can only be understood in a hardened heart that cannot listen or welcome whatever comes from outside oneself. Self-sufficiency and pride necessarily bring closure to the heart and mind. Therefore, we can understand the very harsh sentence of Jesus upon the two towns. Jesus also addresses Capernaum, where he dwelled with his disciples. He is very hard on Capernaum too: “You will be brought down to Hades.” Jesus seems to speak not only to the inhabitants but to the very towns. Actually, there is a link between the inhabitants of a town and the town they live in. We could say that an associated life is the result of the quality of life of the inhabitants. If there is little interest in a communal way of life and if everyone thinks only of his/her own business, the town destroys it. Hell begins in this way, from the selfishness in human hearts. Christians are responsible for the city where they live. They have to be its soul, so that the city, the men and women who live there, may be helped to live in peace and harmony.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord