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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Mary of Clopas who stood near the cross of the Lord with the other women. Prayer for all women in every part of the world who follow the Lord in difficulties and with courage.
We remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was killed by the Nazis in the concentration camp of Flossenbürg.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 6,1-7

About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, to whom we can hand over this duty. We ourselves will continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.' The whole assembly approved of this proposal and elected Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these to the apostles, and after prayer they laid their hands on them. The word of the Lord continued to spread: the number of disciples in Jerusalem was greatly increased, and a large group of priests made their submission to the faith.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The sixth chapter of Acts opens with the story of the first major problem that arose in the Christian community, just as it was beginning. It is not a matter of doctrine, but a question related to charity, to the service to the poor that was one of the central dimensions of Christian life. Shortly before, in describing the life of the community, Luke had said, "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold...and it was distributed to each as any had need" (4:34-35). In reality, something unfortunate had begun to happen: a clear distinction was made in the help given to the widows from the city and those from outside, from the diaspora. The first were helped on a regular basis, while the others were often overlooked. This discrimination caused as strong reaction among the Hellenists of the diaspora. After all, how could charity be allowed to show a preference between the widows from the city and the widows from the diaspora? It was clearly a scandal. A little while later Peter himself will say that "God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34). In order to settle the issue, the apostles gathered an assembly to discuss the problem and decided to reorganize the life of the community, including the element of assistance. To the primary task of announcing the Gospel was added the equally essential task of charity. It was not possible for the preaching not to flow into charity: charity is a confirmation of what is preached. Therefore they chose seven deacons (servants) with the task of organization of the service of charity for the poor, the widows, and whomever was in need. But it is important to be clear. It is not that the service to the poor was entrusted to the deacons alone: it was - and is - the responsibility of all Christians. The deacons had the task of urging everyone else to be generous towards the poor and ensuring that everything was done in the best possible way, that is, with love. Charity is a primary duty of all believers, and everyone has to find his or her way to practice it. Because it is on our charity, as the apostle Matthew reminds us, that we will all be judged.

Sunday Vigil