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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (present day in Algeria) and a Doctor of the Church.

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

1 Thessalonians 4, 1-8

Finally, brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus; we instructed you how to live in the way that pleases God, and you are so living; but make more progress still.

You are well aware of the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

God wills you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from sexual immorality,

and each one of you to know how to control his body in a way that is holy and honourable,

not giving way to selfish lust like the nations who do not acknowledge God.

He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always pays back sins of that sort, as we told you before emphatically.

God called us to be holy, not to be immoral;

in other words, anyone who rejects this is rejecting not human authority, but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul begins this part of the letter with a reference to the authority of Jesus. And in his name he reveals what “please[s] God” (4:1) and “the will God” (4:3, 5:18). He is so convinced of its importance that he formulates his exhortation as a prayer. The Thessalonians already know how to behave to please God; the apostle himself had taught them when he was with them, both by example and by teaching. They must persevere on this path; indeed, they must distinguish themselves even more in following it, until they achieve sanctity. The will of God is our sanctification, that is, for us to belong to God completely, far from the world and completely freed from its bonds. God already demanded holiness in the Old Testament: “For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall be holy, for I am holy”(Lev 11:44-45). What God wants from us was never stated more clearly. But in the New Testament, holiness no longer consists of offering sacrifices or observing the law, as the Jews thought, but in welcoming the Holy Spirit into our hearts. In this way, believers are transformed into new creatures who live and behave according to the Spirit. Paul urges the Thessalonians to behave in ways that respect the dignity of their hearts and the holiness of marriage. It is vital to abandon the pagan-like mind-set that makes us slaves of ourselves and our instincts. He then warns against the thirst for profit and the cupidity that lead people to overpower and humiliate others. “God,” the apostle writes, “did not call us to impurity but in holiness” (4:7), that is, to abandon our selfish and violent behaviour in order to turn to God. Consequently, those who scorn these teachings scorn God himself, while those who remain in “holiness” abide in love. This is why the apostle writes, “Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more” (4:9-10). If love is the Spirit poured out in the hearts of believers, the Spirit himself is the inner teacher who guides every disciple. Indeed, the love of brothers and sisters is not a human teaching, but the new commandment that Jesus gave to the disciples of all ages, making it the distinctive sign of his bond with them. It is a gift that should be lived with an ever-wider scope. No one can become comfortable with the love he or she already has. It is love itself that demands to grow and spread. Finally, the apostle exhorts the Thessalonians to live serene lives, that is, to trust in God’s will, and to distinguish themselves by behaving “properly” towards outsiders. This reminds us of the statement recorded in the Acts of the Apostles concerning the first Christians in Jerusalem, who had “the goodwill of all the people” (Acts 2:47). And to this we can add Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, “Give no offence to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many? so that they may be saved”(1 Cor 10:32-33). ?

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