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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Romuald (950-1027), anchorite and father of Camaldolensis monks.

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

2 Corinthians 11, 18.21-30

So many people boast on merely human grounds that I shall too.

I say it to your shame; perhaps we have been too weak. Whatever bold claims anyone makes -- now I am talking as a fool -- I can make them too.

Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

Are they servants of Christ? I speak in utter folly -- I am too, and more than they are: I have done more work, I have been in prison more, I have been flogged more severely, many times exposed to death.

Five times I have been given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews;

three times I have been beaten with sticks; once I was stoned; three times I have been shipwrecked, and once I have been in the open sea for a night and a day;

continually travelling, I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from brigands, in danger from my own people and in danger from the gentiles, in danger in the towns and in danger in the open country, in danger at sea and in danger from people masquerading as brothers;

I have worked with unsparing energy, for many nights without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty, and often altogether without food or drink; I have been cold and lacked clothing.

And, besides all the external things, there is, day in day out, the pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

If anyone weakens, I am weakened as well; and when anyone is made to fall, I burn in agony myself.

If I have to boast, I will boast of all the ways in which I am weak.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul challenges his opponents, the Judaeo-Christians who were undermining his authority in the community of Corinth by boasting of their Jewish purity and hence of their superiority with respect to the preaching of the apostle. Paul is not ashamed to boast before those who, in praising their wisdom, were destroying the community. The apostle realizes that a discourse in self-defence might sound ambiguous. In fact, boasting is always a way of exalting oneself; it is always an expression of a leadership that wants to impose on others. Pride often leads to having an exalted idea of oneself. For this reason, Paul says he wants to talk as a “fool” so that the Corinthians may accept his self-defence, that is defence of the Gospel he preached and not of himself. Paul’s boasting reveals his weakness on the one hand and on the other, the strength of the Lord. Paul is not inferior to his opponents ironically called “super apostles”: he is of Jewish origin, belongs to Israel and is also a son of Abraham and heir of the messianic promise. Paul is proud to be a Jew; he grew up at the school of one of the greatest scholars of the time, Gamaliel. And if this is pride in his origins, much higher is that of belonging to Christ. The apostle writes to the community that he is the minister of Christ in a much higher way than his opponents. He had already written to them about the other apostles: “I worked harder than any of them” (1 Cor 15:10). Now he can assert it with even greater force in comparison with the false prophets who unfortunately were “making slaves” (v.20) of the Corinthians. And here, with extraordinary passion, the apostle enumerates what he has suffered in order to proclaim the Gospel that was revealed to him. Paul’s claims are not to brag, but to reassert his paternity over the community that was in danger of being lost. Paul’s passionate love for the Corinthian community appears once more: he even faces the risk of appearing biased and pretentious in order to save the community. The long list of the dangers he incurred contrasts with the foolishness of the Corinthians, as well as with our reluctance to devote ourselves to the Gospel, especially when, in so doing, it requires renunciation and suffering. But throughout this long list of pains and difficulties, the apostle reminds himself, the Corinthians and us, that it was the Lord who supported and helped him. This is why he can say: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (V.30). It is from this consciousness that one recognizes the true apostle and servant of Christ. The pride of the apostle, the pride of all of us, is in our weakness, because it manifests the grace and strength of the Lord.

Memory of Jesus crucified