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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

Jeremiah 23,5-8

Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall raise an upright Branch for David; he will reign as king and be wise, doing what is just and upright in the country. In his days Judah will triumph and Israel live in safety. And this is the name he will be called, 'Yahweh-is-our-Saving-Justice.' " 'So, look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when people will no longer say, "As Yahweh lives who brought the Israelites out of Egypt," but, "As Yahweh lives who led back and brought home the offspring of the House of Israel from the land of the north and all the countries to which he had driven them, to live on their own soil." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The passage from the prophet that we just heard is preceded (v. 1-5) by a stern warning for the shepherds of Israel who have not only lost interest in the sheep of the Lord’s flock but have even "scattered" them and "driven them away." After sternly admonishing the shepherds who by betraying the flock have betrayed him as well, the Lord - through the voice of the prophet - assures the people that he himself will come to gather his flock and bring them to pasture from wherever they have been driven. Jeremiah therefore announces: "The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch" (5). At Christmas, this announcement finds it fulfilment. These are the days of which Jeremiah speaks. Now is the time when the Lord will give the world a "branch" that will reign over the world with authority and establish justice and righteousness. The Son of God himself has been sent to earth. He appears as a child, truly a "branch" who does not impose himself with outer strength or any attributes of human power. Indeed, he appears as a weak child who is not even born in a house like everyone else. He is born in a cave outside of the city and laid in a manger, as Matthew’s gospel reminds us today (1:18-24). The strength of this branch lies totally in the boundless love, which drove him to come down from heaven and which will drive him to walk through the streets and squares of his time to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom. The Lord reigns not in the palaces of those who feel powerful or even in the closed houses of those who think only of themselves. The Lord has chosen to reign from the human heart, from our hearts. This is why Christmas comes and returns every year. We need it, given our forgetfulness and how we remain closed in on ourselves. Every year the liturgy leads us to open the doors of our hearts to allow that Child to be born again in us. A wise old Christian said: "If Christ were born in Bethlehem a thousand times, but never in your heart, you would be lost forever." The Lord keeps knocking to enter our hearts: his birth renews them, widens them, makes them strong with love, and illuminates them so they can travel to the periphery of our world. A heart renewed by Christmas can give birth to a new earth, a new history, and a more lasting peace.

Memory of Jesus crucified