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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, bishop and martyr (+155).

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Isaiah 1,10.16-20

Hear what Yahweh says, you rulers of Sodom; listen to what our God teaches, you people of Gomorrah. wash, make yourselves clean. Take your wrong-doing out of my sight. Cease doing evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, discipline the violent, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow. 'Come, let us talk this over,' says Yahweh. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing to obey, you shall eat the good things of the earth. But if you refuse and rebel, the sword shall eat you instead -- for Yahweh's mouth has spoken.'


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

During the season of Lent, in harmony with the invitation to live out this time in repentance and conversion, the liturgy offers us this passage from the prophet Isaiah. In the opening words, the prophet presents the heart of biblical faith: listening to the Word of God. Isaiah speaks to the political leaders, whom he defines as "rulers of Sodom," and then to the wicked men and women, whom he calls "people of Gomorrah," and who probably were gathered in the interior courtyard of the temple taking part in the worship service. The reference to the city of Gomorrah in the prophet’s words makes clear the imminence of God’s judgment on the people. He severely warns: "Hear the word of the Lord...Listen to the teaching of our God!" (v. 10). The Lord does not speak to the people with generic words of encouragement. And the people cannot stand before God in a superficial or ritualistic way. This relationship demands responsibility. Many times in the pages of Scripture the Lord makes it clear that he does not love ritualistic worship, detached from the pursuit of justice and love for the poor. The prophet reports God’s thoughts: "Remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes" (v. 16). And immediately he adds: "Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow" (v. 17). This is the way to worship God. It means that there can be no division between the liturgical worship of the altar in the temple (and churches) and the worship that consists in doing justice and being close to the poor. The two forms of worship are inseparable. And those who practice them enter into that infinite mercy that saves us from any sin. In fact, the Lord says, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow" (v. 18). This is the victory of God’s love over every sin, as long as we let him embrace us.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord