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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

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 12,24-13,5

The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task at Jerusalem and came back, bringing John Mark with them. In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, 'I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.' So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there set sail for Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Up until now, the Christian community had been guided by the Spirit to grow and become stronger in the context of the Jewish world. In Acts chapter 13, guided by the same Spirit, the Community now opens up to the wider horizons of the world. Luke describes this development with an important statement: "But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents." He is not talking about the numeric growth of the disciples or their geographic spread; he is talking about the Word of God. It is the Word that grows and multiplies. Luke emphasizes that Christians are inhabited by the Gospel; they grow and spread if the Gospel grows and spreads. Barnabas and Saul are two disciples who leave from Antioch and set off on their first missionary voyage as bearers of- or better, born by - the word of God. The initiative for their mission did not come from their decision. It came from the Holy Spirit. That is what can be clearly seen in Luke’s account. He notes that while the community was gathered for prayer, they heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." The life of Jesus’ disciples is not simply guided by human decisions, as wise and just as they may be; it always flows from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Everything in the disciples’ lives flows from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the decision to send out the Gospel in mission is made by God, not human beings. And prayer remains the place from which life flows for every community: every good and just thing comes from God, who sets every mission into motion. Paul and Barnabas are not just chosen because of their capabilities, but because they were named by the Spirit, just as the apostles were personally and intentionally chosen and called by Jesus. The two chosen men, named by the Lord and sent by the community, are its representatives and messengers. Their authority comes from their connection with God and is expressed in their connection with the community. And we should not forget that every disciple is called by God to listen to the Gospel every day in order to feel the drive and the strength to bring it all over the world.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets