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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

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

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Deuteronomy 30,15-20

'Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I am laying down for you today, if you love Yahweh your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws and his customs, you will live and grow numerous, and Yahweh your God will bless you in the country which you are about to enter and make your own. But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live for long in the country which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of Yahweh your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him; for in this your life consists, and on this depends the length of time that you stay in the country which Yahweh swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would give them.'


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

At the beginning of Lent we are all presented with a choice: to convert to the Lord, abandoning the way of evil and death in order to follow the way of goodness and life. Deuteronomy shows us how it is possible to live in peace: love the Lord, walk in his ways, and keep his commandments. The same call is made again at the end of the passage: "Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him." Love first. Everything starts with love. Loving the Lord means listening to him, welcoming his word, and "walking in his ways," that is, following him and "keeping united to him." No one should put himself or herself before the Lord, as we would love to do, believing ourselves to be wiser than the Gospel. The disciples—because they are disciples—know that they must always stay behind to follow and to listen. Even in the Gospels Jesus asks the disciples to follow him. Prayer, along with listening to and reading the Word of God, help us follow. We all like to stay ahead in life, to assert ourselves—others should follow us and pay attention to us, giving way to our habits and giving in to our arguments. To be a disciple and to love the Lord is a choice that must be renewed every day, especially all during Lent, an opportune time for conversion, a time that helps us turn away from ourselves and turn our eyes toward the Lord. In loving and following the Lord we learn how to obey his commandments and his Word. Deuteronomy seems to indicate that loving and obeying God holds the secret to life and longevity. This vision is at times contested in the Bible itself, especially when we encounter the suffering and premature death of a just person, as happens, for example, in the book of Job and the book of Wisdom. But there is no doubt that communion with the Lord and listening to his word make life more beautiful and humane, and offer great wisdom for the world.

Memory of the Church