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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of the prophet Elijah who was taken into heaven and left his mantle to Elisha.

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

Exodus 14, 5-18

When Pharaoh king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, he and his officials changed their attitude towards the people. 'What have we done,' they said, 'allowing Israel to leave our service?'

So Pharaoh had his chariot harnessed and set out with his troops,

taking six hundred of the best chariots and all the other chariots in Egypt, with officers in each.

Yahweh made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, and he gave chase to the Israelites. The Israelites marched confidently away,

but the Egyptians, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, his horsemen and his army, gave chase and caught up with them where they lay encamped beside the sea near Pi-Hahiroth, facing Baal-Zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up -- and there were the Egyptians in pursuit of them! The Israelites were terrified and cried out to Yahweh for help.

To Moses they said, 'Was it for lack of graves in Egypt, that you had to lead us out to die in the desert? What was the point of bringing us out of Egypt?

Did we not tell you as much in Egypt? Leave us alone, we said, we would rather work for the Egyptians! We prefer to work for the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'

Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and you will see what Yahweh will do to rescue you today: the Egyptians you see today you will never see again.

Yahweh will do the fighting for you; all you need to do is to keep calm.'

Yahweh then said to Moses, 'Why cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to march on.

Your part is to raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, so that the Israelites can walk through the sea on dry ground,

while I, for my part, shall make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them, and I shall win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, chariots and horsemen.

And when I have won glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh and his chariots and horsemen, the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Chapter 14 of the book of Exodus recounts the passage through the sea, the beginning of the long journey towards the promised land, the first stage of freedom. Pharaoh is irritated, because he is losing his slaves, and he cannot stand to be so greatly humiliated. Evil wants us as slaves, because its only interest is to exploit men and women. Evil ensnares us with its consequences. Evil increases fear, which paralyzes the people of Israel and makes them cower at the size of the Egyptian army, described in all of its strength, which wants to block the path towards freedom. Israel, a small nation, is frightened at the advance of the Egyptian army and cries out its complaint and protest to the Lord. Fear weakens. Israel looses faith in God’s strength, feels lost, and even begins to regret having been freed from slavery in Egypt! The road to freedom, the road of following God, is always a struggle, as all true things are. How easily we give up at the first difficulty. We give in to the common mentality of our time and we stop believing in the presence and protection of God, who does not abandon us. The people cry out against Moses, “What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Moses, a man of God, invites the people of Israel to have faith and to be calm: God does not abandon his people in the midst of difficulty but saves them with his strength: “Do not be afraid,” is an invitation that often resounds in the Bible, spoken to fearful men and women. It is an invitation that Jesus himself repeats to his disciples. Fear is overcome with faith. And with faith we can fight against evil, even when it seems impossible.

Prayer for peace