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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damien, Syrian martyrs. The tradition remembers them as doctors who took care of the sick for free. Special memory of those who dedicate their lives to the treatment and healing of the sick

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

Luke 9, 18-22

Now it happened that he was praying alone, and his disciples came to him and he put this question to them, 'Who do the crowds say I am?'

And they answered, 'Some say John the Baptist; others Elijah; others again one of the ancient prophets come back to life.'

'But you,' he said to them, 'who do you say I am?' It was Peter who spoke up. 'The Christ of God,' he said.

But he gave them strict orders and charged them not to say this to anyone.

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.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Peter’s profession of faith marks a turning point in the Gospel narratives: it prepares the beginning of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Luke does not specify the place where the scene takes place (Mark and Matthew put it in Caesarea of Philip) but rather he inserts it into a horizon of prayer, a scene which is repeated frequently in the third Gospel. The evangelist seems to want to describe the moment in which the Christian community gathers for common prayer: it is an indispensable time to live the personal encounter with Jesus. On that occasion—notes the text—Jesus asks the disciples what people think of him. The rumours, that which had also reached Herod Antipas, are reported to him. But Jesus wanted to hear what they, who had been with him for a while, thought of him. Jesus felt that group like it was his family, like those who were concretely fulfilling his teaching. For this reason, he wanted to know their hearts and what they thought of Him. Obviously it was not a question of superficial knowledge but of the knowledge that flows from faith. On behalf of all of them Peter responds, “The Messiah of God.” It is a solemn profession. And it is even clearer that the one described in Mark’s parallel passage given that “of God” is added to the word “Messiah.” Truly Peter is the first, the one who professes the true faith on behalf of all of them. He stands before us so that we all can respond with the same words to the question which Jesus continues to put even to us: “But who do you say that I am?” It is not an abstract question, as if we were faced with a religious education text. It is Jesus himself who asks our mind and heart to understand and love him as our Saviour, as the one who frees us from sin and death. Jesus does not oblige the disciples to keep secret who he is because he wants to hide. Rather, he does not want is mission to be mistaken by putting worldly and false tracks on it. He does not want his mission to be misunderstood. For this reason, it is good that the knowing is gradual. The difficulty of understanding his mission in depth emerges immediately when he adds what future awaits him in Jerusalem: “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” We know well from parallel Synoptic gospels that Peter reacts negatively to these affirmations of Jesus, despite that he had responded in a deep way to Jesus’ question. Immediately afterwards, he gets lost. Probably he does not pay attention to the words related to the resurrection, as it happens often with us when we select Gospel words to our liking. And yet Jesus’ message is clear: the cross is indispensable to reach the resurrection. It is the mystery of Jesus’ life, of the Church and of disciples of every age. The victory of good over evil passes always through the way of the cross.

Memory of Jesus crucified