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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Wisdom 2, 1.12-22

And this is the false argument they use, 'Our life is short and dreary, there is no remedy when our end comes, no one is known to have come back from Hades.

Let us lay traps for the upright man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our sins against the Law, and accuses us of sins against our upbringing.

He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.

We see him as a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down;

for his kind of life is not like other people's, and his ways are quite different.

In his opinion we are counterfeit; he avoids our ways as he would filth; he proclaims the final end of the upright as blessed and boasts of having God for his father.

Let us see if what he says is true, and test him to see what sort of end he will have.

For if the upright man is God's son, God will help him and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.

Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his patience to the test.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death since God will rescue him -- or so he claims.'

This is the way they reason, but they are misled, since their malice makes them blind.

They do not know the hidden things of God, they do not hope for the reward of holiness, they do not believe in a reward for blameless souls.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The passage from the book of Wisdom, composed in the first century before Christ, reflects upon the situation of the "pious Jews," the "righteous" ones who lived in the Diaspora at that time in the midst of pagan skeptics and fellow countrymen who had abandoned the faith and observance of the law of the Lord. Many Christians today often live in this way. The sacred author puts into the mouths of the "wicked" an accusation against the "righteous ones," thus manifesting the nastiness that often descends upon believers and makes their lives more difficult. The dominant culture drove them to argue that man is the result of chance and his end--his death--has no meaning; therefore it is wise to spend life for oneself seeking one's own satisfaction, interests, and profit. Anything that stands in the way should be eliminated, removed in any way, even with violence. The testimony of the "righteous ones" is a living contradiction against this kind of existence; their mere presence annoys and even becomes unbearable. The Bible describes the growing hatred against the righteous ones: from planting pitfalls to insulting them, before finally planning to execute them, as a blasphemous challenge against God. It is easy to see here the face of Jesus, the righteous one who suffers and dies because of the wickedness of men overpowered by the evil spirit. Next to Jesus appear the faces of all those believers who still today - so many of them - are "persecuted for the sake of righteousness" (Mt 5:10). The author of the Letter to Diognetus-- an ancient Christian text dating from the times of persecution--writes that Christians "are in the world that which is the soul in the body ... The flesh hates the soul and makes war, without receiving injury, but only because the soul forbids the body to enjoy pleasures; the world also hates Christians, who did not do it any wrong, only because they are opposed to pleasures." In truth, Christians are persecuted because the love that freely springs from following Jesus prevents the love of self from having free reign. Being "the soul of the world" means that only such love is the breath of life

Memory of Jesus crucified