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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

Daniel 7, 2-14

Daniel said, 'I have been seeing visions in the night. I saw that the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea;

four great beasts emerged from the sea, each different from the others.

The first was like a lion with eagle's wings and, as I looked, its wings were torn off, and it was lifted off the ground and set standing on its feet like a human; and it was given a human heart.

And there before me was a second beast, like a bear, rearing up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth, between its teeth. "Up!" came the command. "Eat quantities of flesh!"

After this I looked; and there before me was another beast, like a leopard, and with four bird's wings on its flanks; it had four heads and was granted authority.

Next, in the visions of the night, I saw another vision: there before me was a fourth beast, fearful, terrifying, very strong; it had great iron teeth, and it ate its victims, crushed them, and trampled their remains underfoot. It was different from the previous beasts and had ten horns.

'While I was looking at these horns, I saw another horn sprouting among them, a little one; three of the original horns were pulled out by the roots to make way for it; and in this horn I saw eyes like human eyes, and a mouth full of boasting.

While I was watching, thrones were set in place and one most venerable took his seat. His robe was white as snow, the hair of his head as pure as wool. His throne was a blaze of flames, its wheels were a burning fire.

A stream of fire poured out, issuing from his presence. A thousand thousand waited on him, ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was in session and the books lay open.

'I went on watching: then, because of the noise made by the boastings of the horn, as I watched, the beast was put to death, and its body destroyed and committed to the flames.

The other beasts were deprived of their empire, but received a lease of life for a season and a time.

I was gazing into the visions of the night, when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a son of man. He came to the One most venerable and was led into his presence.

On him was conferred rule, honour and kingship, and all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His rule is an everlasting rule which will never pass away, and his kingship will never come to an end.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

How to understand the significance of those difficult times How to decipher the images and visions that seemed to paint the story of a drama dominated by evil Daniel, "felt weakened." When history becomes complex, the future uncertain, and evil imminent, the instinct is to feel weak, to allow ourselves to be taken by resignation. Daniel’s strength is in not staying silent, in continuing to ask questions to the Lord, to the only one who can help him understand events. The word of God helps us not to remain silent, to question ourselves, not accepting history as an unchangeable destiny. The language used in Daniel, which is used again in John’s Apocalypse, tries to penetrate the dark secrets of the world, and helps us to answer the questions of difficult and complex times, like the ones we live in now. The four beasts symbolize the different empires that followed each other after the 7th century. To those the last kingdom is added, this one perhaps more terrible for the population of Judea and Jerusalem—that of Antioch IV Epiphanes (the little horn), who was their worst persecutor and who reappears mostly in the second part of the book. Inside a terrible story, marked by the arrogance of power, a power that submits and destroys everything, God does not abandon his people to the power of evil. The Lord and a heavenly court appear before Daniel (the Ancient One sitting on the throne and the thousands who serve him) and someone "having the appearance of a man," a messianic figure whom Jesus later refers to as himself in the Gospels (Mk 13: 26). God comes to re-establish justice for those who remained faithful and who continued to believe in the strength of his love. He does not allow them to be destroyed by evil. "The son of man," Jesus Son of God, will come on the clouds of the sky and in his resurrection will show to all the victory of the God of life over death. Let us entrust ourselves to the Lord to be saved by the one to whom he has entrusted the power to save us.

Memory of Jesus crucified