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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of the deportation of the Jews of Rome during the Second World War

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 11, 47-54

'Alas for you because you build tombs for the prophets, the people your ancestors killed!

In this way you both witness to what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building.

'And that is why the Wisdom of God said, "I will send them prophets and apostles; some they will slaughter and persecute,

so that this generation will have to answer for every prophet's blood that has been shed since the foundation of the world,

from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the Temple." Yes, I tell you, this generation will have to answer for it all.

'Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves and have prevented others from going in who wanted to.'

When he left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began a furious attack on him and tried to force answers from him on innumerable questions,

lying in wait to catch him out in something he might say.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus will continue to oppose the Pharisees and Scribes with the two last invectives. The Pharisees and Scribes, not contented enough with imposing obligations onto others that they themselves do not observe, maintain the same attitude of those Jews who did not listen to the prophets and killed them. In so doing, they impede not only themselves but others from entering the Kingdom. They possess the keys to religious knowledge but they are unable to open the way to God for themselves and even worse, they close the door to the humble and weak who seek salvation. This is the gravest charge against them. In the entire Bible story God is always the defender of the poor and of the weak; who offends them, offends God. This is found in the Old Testament tradition and was brought to fulfilment in Jesus preaching, as he identified himself with the poor and the weak. This is why we too, and especially those who carry responsibility within the Christian community, need to listen with great attention to these harsh words Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and Scribes. The Gospel word asks everyone to be responsible ones for the others, especially the poor. Every believer’s duty is to love others with responsibility and attention. Moreover, it is a right, first and foremost for the poor, right to be loved and protected. We are linked to the generation in which we live and no one can say that they are foreign to what happens in their given life time. Indeed, we are in a sense “co-responsible”-- naturally, each person according to their capability—for our neighbours. In the Christian community, brothers and sisters have a reciprocal responsibility for each other. One could say that in the community, everyone is both with the flock and with the shepherds. In that way, we go beyond that kind of clerical climate that puts the responsibility only on clergy. No, God’s family is a family where everyone is entrusted to one another. Cain’s answer is certainly not in a family spirit: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gn 4:9). Truly every believer should broaden his or her family spirit to all peoples. Indeed, every believer has a responsibility to build up and nourish fraternity between people. This responsibility grows with the increase of evil in the world. All of us need to be attentive to the “prophets”, that is, those who are sent by God who are sent from time to time to awaken our dormant conscience. We will be brought to account on whether we followed the words of the prophets both in Scripture and of those God continues to send us in the world. We could risk an even greater guilt than the Scribes and Pharisees gave: how many prophets and martyrs in our century have witnessed the primacy of God till death? Aren’t there also in our times? We have received many witnesses, we have been given many gifts and have had many loving and good brothers and sisters with us. They have opened to us the way of the Gospel of love. The Lord is asking us not to be stuck in concentration on ourselves and to let our hearts be guided on the way of repentance of heart.

Memory of the Church