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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

Isaiah 40, 1-11

'Console my people, console them,' says your God.

'Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and cry to her that her period of service is ended, that her guilt has been atoned for, that, from the hand of Yahweh, she has received double punishment for all her sins.'

A voice cries, 'Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the wastelands.

Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, every cliff become a plateau, every escarpment a plain;

then the glory of Yahweh will be revealed and all humanity will see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.'

A voice said, 'Cry aloud!' and I said, 'What shall I cry?' -'All humanity is grass and all its beauty like the wild flower's.

The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of Yahweh blows on them. (The grass is surely the people.)

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains for ever.'

Go up on a high mountain, messenger of Zion. Shout as loud as you can, messenger of Jerusalem! Shout fearlessly, say to the towns of Judah, 'Here is your God.'

Here is Lord Yahweh coming with power, his arm maintains his authority, his reward is with him and his prize precedes him.

He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Book of Isaiah, from chapter 40 to chapter 55, contains the words of a prophet who lived during the terrible ordeal of the exile in Babylon. Distrust and sadness have invaded the hearts of the deportees. Had the Lord forgotten his people? Where could they look for consolation? It is the Lord himself who raises up a prophet and drives him to say, “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term.” The prophet does not let himself be overwhelmed by resignation or discouragement at the difficult situation in which his people finds themselves. Driven by the spirit of God, he speaks words of consolation and announces the end of their slavery. The Lord had been moved by Israel, which had strayed from the covenant and was suffering sad and bitter consequences. Distance from the Lord always leads to sad and bitter slavery. The prophet now urges the people of Israel, who have understood the consequences of sin, to look to the Lord, who has decided to come to their rescue and free them from slavery. We must open a road in the desert of our hearts to allow the Lord to enter and visit us. We must fill in the valleys of indifference that separate people from God and from each other, cast down the mountains of hatred that prevent us from encountering others, and, through dialogue, straighten out all the misunderstandings and prejudices that impede every embrace. But we cannot do this on our own initiative, so great is the weight of our slavery. We need to hear the voice that the Lord has sent. And, in fact, there is a voice crying in the wilderness of this world. We must listen to it. It is the Word of God, which is never lacking in this season of Advent. Whoever listens to it is comforted by it: it opens us to encounter the Lord, who consoles his people. The prophet urges whoever proclaims the word of God to climb a mountain - this happens every time the Gospel is proclaimed in the Liturgy or even when the pages of the Bible are opened in the secrecy of prayer - and proclaim the joyful news that God is near: “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings.” The Lord is coming like a strong shepherd, who redeems, who saves, and who tenderly “will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.” Christian communities and individual believers are called to lay aside all fear and reluctance, and become prophets themselves, that is, proclaimers of God's consolation, and to tenderly care for the small and weak.

Memory of the Poor