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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of the dedication of the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere where the Community of Sant’Egidio prays every day

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 18, 1-8

Then he told them a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart.

'There was a judge in a certain town,' he said, 'who had neither fear of God nor respect for anyone.

In the same town there was also a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, "I want justice from you against my enemy!"

For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, "Even though I have neither fear of God nor respect for any human person,

I must give this widow her just rights since she keeps pestering me, or she will come and slap me in the face." '

And the Lord said, 'You notice what the unjust judge has to say?

Now, will not God see justice done to his elect if they keep calling to him day and night even though he still delays to help them?

I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of man comes, will he find any faith on earth?'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today’s Gospel returns to a theme very dear to Luke: prayer. In truth, prayer played a large part in the daily life of a pious Israelite. Even Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, which for him was a unique and very personal experience. But like every spiritual teacher, he had to teach his disciples how to pray. The first time the evangelist mentioned Jesus’ teaching on prayer is when he teaches them the “Our Father” (11:1-13). Now, this is the second time he speaks of it to his disciples, underlining “the need to pray always and not to lose heart.” Not only must they pray “always,” but they must also do so “without ever losing heart.” The danger of losing heart or of breaking down before seemingly unanswered requests is a very common experience. Jesus does not want his disciples to lose faith in God and in his prompt mercy. He personally experiences the force and the value of prayer: he knows that the Father always listens. He says this explicitly at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, “Father, I thank you…” (Jn 11:41-42). Jesus wants even his disciples to have his certainty, his faith in prayer. As the Father listens to him, he will listen to them. Jesus seems to say that prayer is always effective; they should not doubt. To support this statement, he tells the parable of a poor widow who pleads before a judge for justice. She is a symbol of the powerlessness of the weak in a society like that at the time of Jesus; yet she persists before the judge who is dishonest and hard of heart, and she is finally heard and obtains justice. The scene is striking because of its realism. But above all, its meaning as applied to prayer to our Father in heaven is extraordinary. If that hard-hearted judge listened to that poor widow, Jesus seems to say, “How much more will your heavenly Father who is not only just but has a large and merciful heart listen.” In any way possible, the Gospel wants to convince us of the strength and the power of prayer: it could be said that when it is persistent, it obliges God to intervene. Prayer is the first work a disciple is called to fulfil because prayer actualizes God’s intervention in life and history. And, like any work, prayer must be frequent and persevering. Prayer is not an extemporary work, a practice to be carried out every now and then. Its persistence assures God’s intervention. In its effects, prayer is precisely the greatest strength of a Christian. In the face of this affirmation, Jesus seriously asks, “But when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” This demand seriously questions the individual disciples and the community. The Son of man continues to come to earth, even today. What about our prayer? Blessed are we if the Lord finds us vigilant and persevering in prayer.

Sunday Vigil