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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 19, 16-22

And now a man came to him and asked, 'Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?'

Jesus said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one alone who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.'

He said, 'Which ones?' Jesus replied, 'These: You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false witness.

Honour your father and your mother. You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'

The young man said to him, 'I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?'

Jesus said, 'If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.'

But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

How to reach eternal life is the question for each of us, who, for the most part are children of a rich world, or in any case, are attached to our belongings. To avoid any misunderstanding, Jesus immediately says that only God is good, not us. Perhaps he wants to help the man understand that he has found the only one who is truly good and that anything which is good comes from God. But the young man responds that he has always observed the commandments. Perhaps he feels restless but does not know how to go beyond rules. He understands that rules are not enough; perhaps he searches for other rules or only wants to be reassured. In reality eternal life is not acquired on one’s merits because it is not something that can be bought or to which one is entitled. Eternal life is choosing Jesus over everything else, even over ourselves and our riches. In replying, Jesus does not add another commandment; he simply says, “If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven, and come after me.” He proposes a high ideal: “If you want to be perfect.” This is not a piece of advice reserved for some, the better ones or the more courageous. The Lord’s school is not selective. Perfection is available to everyone because it is about heart. The heart is perfect when it loves and lets itself be loved. Only love can allow such a radical choice—the same as that made by the merchant who finds a pearl of great value or by the person who finds a treasure hidden in a field and full of joy, sells all that he owns and buys that field. The perfect man and the perfect woman are not those who never make mistakes. When we think in this way we become hypocrites, like the Pharisees. The perfect believer is the one who loves like a child, who trusts and lets him or herself be loved, like one of the little ones that Jesus embraced. Perfect believers are those who try to love as they can, and with all of themselves. The human consequence of loving God above all things is that we will share our riches with the poor. Saint Francis is the perfect example of a young rich man who was not ashamed to give everything back to his father in order to love his Father in heaven, thus possessing everything because he was poor in everything. The kingdom starts in his joy, in that Franciscan happiness which is the fruit of total love for the Lord and therefore for all brothers and sisters and for the poor.

Prayer for peace