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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

Sirach 44, 1.9-13

Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors in their successive generations.

While others have left no memory, and disappeared as though they had not existed. They are now as though they had never been, and so too, their children after them.

But here is a list of illustrious men whose good works have not been forgotten.

In their descendants they find a rich inheritance, their posterity.

Their descendants stand by the commandments and, thanks to them, so do their children's children.

Their offspring will last for ever, their glory will not fade.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Throughout the history of Israel appear people whom the book of Sirach calls "famous men" (see chapters 44-50). From Enoch to the high priest Simon, son of Onias, who lived around 300 B.C., the author lists the great names that appear in the biblical text as pillars of faith in the God of the covenant and peace. Looking back at the history that has passed is a stimulus and a challenge for the present moment. The memory of our ancestors in faith is not useless nostalgia, but the confirmation that the Lord has always acted in the depths of human history, raising up men and women who were guides and models of justice and faithfulness not only for Israel but even for the neighbouring peoples. History is not mute, nor does it play out in an endless cycle, as if it were closed in on itself. History is like a road that is built day after day with the help and the constant presence of the Lord. In this history of salvation, there have been "godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten" (v. 10). They are a spiritual guarantee, a sort of yeast that grows in the present time. We cannot live without the memory of those who came before us. The promise of God was announced to them, but the grace of this promise reaches us. This is why Jesus says, "Many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it" (Mt 13:17). We can say that the "descendants" of the famous men have been very fortunate, because they stood at the threshold of the promise, while we, who have known Jesus, have entered the door of faith and love. There was "something better" for us (Heb 11:39), the gift of salvation that came to us thanks to the great witness given by Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Heb 12:2). ?

Memory of Jesus crucified