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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 13, 1-8

Continue to love each other like brothers,

and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Keep in mind those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; and those who are being badly treated, since you too are in the body.

Marriage must be honoured by all, and marriages must be kept undefiled, because the sexually immoral and adulterers will come under God's judgement.

Put avarice out of your lives and be content with whatever you have; God himself has said: I shall not fail you or desert you,

and so we can say with confidence: With the Lord on my side, I fear nothing: what can human beings do to me?

Remember your leaders, who preached the word of God to you, and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives, take their faith as your model.

Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be for ever.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The last chapter of the letter to the Hebrews opens with a command to love: “Let mutual love continue.” This does not simply mean distinguishing oneself in charitable works, as was done in the past (see 6:10, 10:33) but to “continue” in love. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”(Jn 13:5) Mutual love identifies the community as Christian and renders it a convincing witness to the Gospel. “Hospitality” is an integral part of this fraternal love; indeed biblical tradition is crossed by this golden thread. Moreover, the author reminds us that “for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” The reference is to Abraham who welcomed three travellers by the oak tree in Mamre (see Gen 18). We may add, too, that the importance of hospitality marks the entire Christian story; at the Last Judgment, Jesus says in Matthew, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Fraternal love does not remain closed in on its own community but necessarily reaches out to others: the imprisoned, the suffering and all those who need help. How full of tenderness is the invitation to “remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.” This is an invitation not only to solidarity but also to paying attention to another person as though he or she were part of our family. The Church is indeed God’s family, a family that includes the poor. Marriage too is included in this horizon of love, which the author wishes to preserve from betrayals that stem from instincts or coveting desires. Beyond a simple sexual union, marriage is aimed at creating a family that, in society and in the Church, allows a harmonious existence between people of all ages and status in life. Christians are invited to choose a sober way of life without succumbing to the frenetic race for personal well being and ignoring the lives of everyone else. This is why the Letter to the Hebrews warns primarily against greed, that is, the accumulation of riches for oneself without regard to one’s responsibility to the poor and weak. The appeal to be content with what one has is not an invitation to resignation but an exhortation to abandon oneself to God and his mercy that will never abandon us. It is the way of life lived by Jesus himself and transmitted to his disciples. With an awareness that the unity of the community depends also on the one who is charged with leading it, the Letter concludes with this exhortation: to remember the one who has the responsibility of “announcing the Word of God.” The apostle Paul writes that faith depends on listening. This is why Christians are called to listen to the preacher and welcome his or her words in their hearts. If whoever preaches responds to God by his or her ministry, believers respond to God on how they listen to them. The encouragement to remember the leaders of the community is very appropriate; their preaching should be treasured since “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.” Their faith is to be imitated and they should be accompanied in prayer, to help and sustain them so that they may fulfil their pastoral ministries with the utmost care.

Memory of Jesus crucified