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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

Matthew 13, 54-58

and, coming to his home town, he taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, 'Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?

This is the carpenter's son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude?

His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?'

And they would not accept him. But Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is despised only in his own country and in his own house,'

and he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus returns to Nazareth, his “homeland,” where he is with “his people.” It is easy to reduce the Lord to the limits of our sad wisdom. We do it with everyone. We believe we know someone right away because we know where he comes from, or because of a memory we have of him, his attitude, or how he talks, or because we used to spend time with him. We trust our impressions, whether because we consider them infallible or just because they are ours, and therefore true. The inhabitants of Nazareth knew Jesus well. They had seen him grow up, had played with him, and had sat next to him in the synagogue. He comes back to them. He does not present himself as someone else; he has not taken on a new appearance. He is the same as always, but now with a wisdom that his people cannot understand, and which scandalizes them. The way the inhabitants of Nazareth react - out of fear, habit, conformism, and superficiality - is profoundly sad: everyone is what he or she is; no one can really change; it is useless to dream, because everyone always stays the same. A few features, some appearances, can change but in the end, one is always the same! Therefore the truth is that no one can do anything and that it is never worth even try to do it. This is the resigned and realistic wisdom of the world: people think they know everything, but they do not know love, the heart, or life. Even in present day, for example, we are well informed about everything that happens in the world, and we get the news in real time, but we do not understand with our hearts, and consequently we have little capacity for love. In the end, everything just blends into the little we already know. We think we know everything about life, we spend hours trying to figure things out, but we do not understand things with love. Those who become disciples know Jesus - not the ones who think they are his people by nature, inheritance, merit, or because they have been close to him. Jesus’ true family is made up of the poor, sinners, those who trust in him, those who need to be loved, those who do not try to be cunning and malicious, those who do not make their mistrust into their truth, and those who do not believe themselves to be just. The little ones - and that is what we are all called to be - understand who Jesus is. But how often do we instead treat him with presumption and a sense of self-sufficiency, like the inhabitants of Nazareth. The problem is that our hearts do not change; not Jesus. We cannot know the Lord once and for all. If we listen to him with our heart, through the different seasons of our lives, he will reveal the ever-new mystery of his love.

Memory of Jesus crucified