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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

Hebrews 4, 1-5.11

Let us beware, then: since the promise never lapses, none of you must think that he has come too late for the promise of entering his place of rest.

We received the gospel exactly as they did; but hearing the message did them no good because they did not share the faith of those who did listen.

We, however, who have faith, are entering a place of rest, as in the text: And then in my anger I swore that they would never enter my place of rest. Now God's work was all finished at the beginning of the world;

as one text says, referring to the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day after all the work he had been doing.

And, again, the passage above says: They will never reach my place of rest.

Let us, then, press forward to enter this place of rest, or some of you might copy this example of refusal to believe and be lost.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The temptation that Christians face, and about which the author of the Letter issues a warning, is the same temptation faced by the Israelites who had reached the border of Canaan, that is, the temptation to stay behind and not enter the promised land, the temptation to withdraw from God's love and refuse to be caught up in God's embrace. And yet this is precisely the good news that the Lord came to give humanity. And in the new time begun by Jesus, all of this is even clearer: he came to earth to love us; he not only takes nothing away from us, but gives us everything. Jesus too, we could say, does not “stay behind;” indeed he descended to the point of giving his very life for us. We are the ones who are tempted to not “enter his rest.” How often we are afraid to let ourselves be embraced or loved by the Lord. We prefer the sadness of remaining alone. The author calls this attitude that leads us to follow ourselves rather than the rest proposed by God “disobedience.” It is wise to recognize our fear of letting ourselves be restored by the Word and mercy of God. But Jesus comes towards us and says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). The “rest”, the relief that is proposed to us, is the embrace of God's love that we experience in the maternal embrace of the Church and the community. The Word that is addressed to us every day, by which the Lord embraces us, soothes the wounds of our heart, gives us peace, and makes us grow in charity and joy. The Lord's love is an energy that transforms us and builds a communion among brothers and sisters, similar to that of a solid and welcoming house. The Church, the community of brothers and sisters, is already living in the day of “rest,” the “seventh day,” in which God reigns over everything with love. The author is right to urge believers to strive to enter this rest, “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.” In fact, entering this “rest” means taking part in the life of the community. For the author this “rest” is something like the house of God into which Christians are invited to enter, the gift that Christians receive by taking part in the Christian community where they are loved and watched over. This community is where the Word is explained and where, in fraternity, everyone is guided towards love for their brothers and sisters, towards charity for the poor, and towards the edification of peace among all. It is in this context that the author weaves his words of praise for the Word of God, the true and solid foundation, the rock on which the house is built. It is a certain foundation that is laid once and for all, but it is also a living stone, because it “refunds,” reinforces, the community every day. The Word of God, in fact, nourishes us with food that is ever new, appropriate for every spiritual age, and sustains believers so that they might be able to uproot evil and amass good.

Memory of Jesus crucified