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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

Leviticus 23, 1.4-16.27-37

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

"These are Yahweh's solemn festivals, the sacred assemblies to which you will summon the Israelites on the appointed day:

"The fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, is the Passover of Yahweh;

and the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of Unleavened Bread for Yahweh. For seven days you will eat unleavened bread.

On the first day you will hold a sacred assembly; you will do no heavy work.

For seven days you will offer food burnt for Yahweh. On the seventh day there will be a sacred assembly; you will do no heavy work." '

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

'Speak to the Israelites and say: "When you enter the country which I am giving you and reap the harvest there, you will bring the priest the first sheaf of your harvest,

and he will present it to Yahweh with the gesture of offering, for you to be acceptable. The priest will make this offering on the day after the Sabbath,

and on the same day as you make this offering, you will offer Yahweh an unblemished lamb one year old as a burnt offering.

The cereal offering for that day will be two-tenths of wheaten flour mixed with oil, as food burnt as a smell pleasing to Yahweh. The libation will be a quarter of a hin of wine.

You will eat no bread, roasted ears of wheat or fresh produce before this day, before making the offering to your God. This is a perpetual law for all your descendants, wherever you live.

"From the day after the Sabbath, the day on which you bring the sheaf of offering, you will count seven full weeks.

You will count fifty days, to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then you will offer Yahweh a new cereal offering.

'But the tenth day of this seventh month will be the Day of Expiation. You will hold a sacred assembly. You will fast and offer food burnt for Yahweh.

You will do no work that day, for it is the Day of Expiation, on which the rite of expiation will be performed for you before Yahweh your God.

Anyone who fails to fast that day will be outlawed from his people;

anyone who works that day I shall eliminate from his people.

No work will be done -- this is a perpetual law for your descendants wherever you live.

It must be a day of complete rest for you. You will fast; on the evening of the ninth day of the month, from this evening till the following evening, you will rest completely.'

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

'Speak to the Israelites and say: "On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there will be the feast of Shelters for Yahweh, lasting for seven days.

The first day will be a day of sacred assembly; you will do no heavy work.

For seven days you will offer food burnt for Yahweh. On the eighth day you will hold a sacred assembly and you will offer food burnt for Yahweh. It is a day of solemn meeting; you will do no heavy work.

"These are Yahweh's solemn festivals to which you will summon the Israelites, the sacred assemblies for the purpose of offering food burnt for Yahweh, consisting of burnt offerings, cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations, each on its appropriate day,


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

God lays out the celebrations that should mark the life of his people, define its seasons, and help them understand his love in their daily lives and live out their vocation. Times and seasons are established by God, and they help us understand the meaning of our days. When people escape from the temptation to be their own rule and measure, from the illusion of being able to bend everything to their own immediate interests, they discover instead the greatness of God in the days and seasons. The first festival, the first month, on the fourteenth day, will be the Passover of the Lord, which requires the people to offer sacrifices consumed in fire to the Lord. The festival of unleavened bread is the same. The meaning of the first fruits decreed by God is this: to not think of ourselves as masters, to remember the gifts we have received, and to not use everything for ourselves, but to remember the gifts in a concrete way, not just virtually, and to learn to give them. There are many different celebrations, because in celebration men and women discover the liberty of being fully with God, putting God at the centre in order to find the heart of our lives and our path. It is not our preoccupations at the centre, which have such an influence on our choices, but the presence of God. These are not festivals for individuals. It is the entire people that celebrates, and so there are always holy assemblies. We know that the temptation for the people of Israel was the same as it is for us: to reduce the festivals to a matter of individual participation, rather than something to be celebrated as a people, and to treat them as something external, even though God wants the hearts of men and women to be completely focused on him, with no distractions.

Memory of Jesus crucified