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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595), “apostle of Rome.”

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Sirach 35, 1-15

One who keeps the Law multiplies offerings; one who follows the commandments offers communion sacrifices.

Proof of gratitude is an offering of fine flour, almsgiving a sacrifice of praise.

To abandon wickedness is what pleases the Lord, to give up wrong-doing is an expiatory sacrifice.

Do not appear empty-handed in the Lord's presence; for all these things are due under the commandment.

The offering of the upright graces the altar, and its savour rises before the Most High.

The sacrifice of the upright is acceptable, its memorial will not be forgotten.

Honour the Lord with generosity, do not stint the first-fruits you bring.

Add a smiling face to all your gifts, and be cheerful as you dedicate your tithes.

Give to the Most High as he has given to you, as generously as your means can afford;

for the Lord is a good rewarder, he will reward you seven times over.

Do not try to bribe him with presents, he will not accept them, do not put your faith in wrongly motivated sacrifices;

for the Lord is a judge who is utterly impartial.

He never shows partiality to the detriment of the poor, he listens to the plea of the injured party.

He does not ignore the orphan's supplication, nor the widow's as she pours out her complaint.

Do the widow's tears not run down her cheeks, as she accuses the man who is the cause of them?


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After having criticized insincere sacrifice (34:18-26), the sacred author urges his readers to combine their worship with the observance of the Law: "One who keeps the law makes many offerings; one who heeds the commandments makes an offering of well-being." ?Sirach certainly appreciates worship. Indeed he urges his readers, "Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed...The offering of the righteous enriches the altar, and its pleasing odour rises before the Most High." ?He urges believers to make their sacrifices with joy. But the sacred author affirms, "one who gives alms sacrifices a thank-offering" and again, "to forsake unrighteousness is an atonement." This dual focus on worship and the observance of the law and the practice of love are clearly present in these pages, as they are in the pages of prophets. Their fulfilment will come with Jesus, who will make love of God and neighbour the fulfilment of the law. Keeping the Lord's commands, observing our religion in an unblemished manner, and coming to the aid of the poor and the weak are the true worship that we must offer the Lord. The words of Sirach recall those of Hosea (6:6), taken up by Matthew, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (12:7). True religion is clearly defined: believers who do what the Word of God demands do not "appear before the Lord empty-handed," because they bring to God what He had commanded them. The Gospel will broaden the paths of mercy until they no longer have any boundaries. Jesus places mercy at the centre of the preaching of the Kingdom: worshiping God will consist of doing good to those in need. Our offering is measured by the generosity we show towards the poor, by our hand reaching out to those who suffer from hunger and nakedness, and by our closeness to all those who need help and consolation. For Jesus, mercy is God's very way of being. Even though the Lord does not show partiality and gives his love to all, he will first, "listen to the prayer of one who is wronged," the orphan, and the widow. ?If a disciple wishes to stand in God's presence, he or she must practice this same mercy. ?

Memory of the Mother of the Lord