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The Everyday Prayer

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

In the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere the Community of Sant’Egidio prays for peace.

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

Acts 11,1-18

The apostles and the brothers in Judaea heard that gentiles too had accepted the word of God, and when Peter came up to Jerusalem the circumcised believers protested to him and said, 'So you have been visiting the uncircumcised and eating with them!' Peter in reply gave them the details point by point, 'One day, when I was in the town of Jaffa,' he began, 'I fell into a trance as I was praying and had a vision of something like a big sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners. This sheet came right down beside me. I looked carefully into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of heaven. Then I heard a voice that said to me, "Now, Peter, kill and eat!" But I answered, "Certainly not, Lord; nothing profane or unclean has ever crossed my lips." And a second time the voice spoke from heaven, "What God has made clean, you have no right to call profane." This was repeated three times, before the whole of it was drawn up to heaven again. 'Just at that moment, three men stopped outside the house where we were staying; they had been sent from Caesarea to fetch me, and the Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going back with them. The six brothers here came with me as well, and we entered the man's house. He told us he had seen an angel standing in his house who said, "Send to Jaffa and fetch Simon known as Peter; he has a message for you that will save you and your entire household." 'I had scarcely begun to speak when the Holy Spirit came down on them in the same way as it came on us at the beginning, and I remembered that the Lord had said, "John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit." I realised then that God was giving them the identical gift he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; and who was I to stand in God's way?' This account satisfied them, and they gave glory to God, saying, 'God has clearly granted to the gentiles too the repentance that leads to life.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The unprecedented news that the Gentiles had accepted the word of God had reached the mother community of Jerusalem. Peter’s presence in the house of Cornelius and his family had scandalized many of the Christians of Jerusalem, so much so that as soon as Peter returned to the city, "the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’" They bring to mind the accusations the Pharisees made against Jesus because he went into the houses of sinners and ate with them. But this time it is not the Pharisees who accuse Peter, but Jews who have become disciples of Jesus. They are still closed in the horizon of the Jewish law and have not understood the wideness of the love Jesus came to proclaim and preach. Their minds and hearts were firmly set on the idea of ethnic belonging, which was still tied to Jewish rituals and practices. They did not understand the wideness of God’s mercy, which, with Jesus, had overcome all boundaries, starting with the most ethnic and legalistic. They had to listen to the Gospel again and open their hearts and minds to understand the profound message contained in the pages of the Bible and in Jesus’ preaching. The same thing, albeit on a different level, happens today when ethnic, tribal, national, or cultural barriers are raised between Christians or communities. Or when people give in to a mind-set that knows no mercy, perhaps claiming the need to defend the truth, as if there were a difference between the two. Jesus came to break down every form of division and separation, every closure and every legalistic formalism. Peter speaks to the community of Jerusalem and tells them that everything that he had done came directly from God’s inspiration. In fact it is the Holy Spirit, not rules and habits, that regulates the life of the Church. We should not forget what Jesus told the apostles before leaving them: "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you" (John 14:26). After having listened to Peter, those believers from Jerusalem "were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’" A boundary had been crossed: the entire world was now opening up in front of the apostles.

Prayer for peace