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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

Wisdom 13, 1-9

Yes, naturally stupid are all who are unaware of God, and who, from good things seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is, or, by studying the works, have not recognised the Artificer.

Fire, however, or wind, or the swift air, the sphere of the stars, impetuous water, heaven's lamps, are what they have held to be the gods who govern the world.

If, charmed by their beauty, they have taken these for gods, let them know how much the Master of these excels them, since he was the very source of beauty that created them.

And if they have been impressed by their power and energy, let them deduce from these how much mightier is he that has formed them,

since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author.

Small blame, however, attaches to them, for perhaps they go astray only in their search for God and their eagerness to find him;

familiar with his works, they investigate them and fall victim to appearances, seeing so much beauty.

But even so, they have no excuse:

if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge to be able to investigate the world, how have they been so slow to find its Master?


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this chapter the author begins to make a long case against idolatry. The author opens the case in a turning moment of his reflection as if wanting to justify why God ought to have stepped in against the Egyptians, even if he had acted with great clemency. It seems that the author intends to reflect again on what was narrated in the initial chapters of Exodus, insisting on the point that all that God had done against Egypt was justified, but that it was not a definitive punishment. In a pluralist and cultivated world, the context in which the book of Wisdom was written, the text wants to argue the danger of worshipping the idols populating the Hellenic world, while at the same time reaffirming divine mercy, which never stops offering even the enemies of his people the possibility to listen to his word and mend their ways. The text describes the foolishness of those who fabricate idols and venerate them. In keeping with Psalm 115, the author wants to show the futility of idols, which as they are made by the hands of men are already dead at the moment of their conception. Perhaps in our contemporary world we could easily consider ourselves to be superior to and more sophisticated then the words we read in the psalm or in the book of Wisdom. After all, today we do not venerate statues or divinities as had once been done in the ancient Greek and Roman world. And yet, there are many other hand-made idols that not only do we venerate, but that we would even give our life for. Think of the idols of wealth and strength, of consumerism and well being, of beauty and health, of work and success. They are idols that enslave us without pity, leaving us to think that life is meaningless and that we are empty without them. In the face of these new idolatries the Word of God is not silent; on the contrary, it becomes stern. However, God’s word does not definitively condemn those who allow themselves to be enslaved by these new idols. The sacred author shows us God’s mercy: "Yet these people are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him" (v. 6).

Memory of Jesus crucified