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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Anselm (1033-1109), a Benedictine monk and bishop of Canterbury, who suffered exile for his love for the Church.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 13,13-25

Paul and his companions went by sea from Paphos to Perga in Pamphylia where John left them to go back to Jerusalem. The others carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the Sabbath and took their seats. After the passages from the Law and the Prophets had been read, the presidents of the synagogue sent them a message, 'Brothers, if you would like to address some words of encouragement to the congregation, please do so.' Paul stood up, raised his hand for silence and began to speak: 'Men of Israel, and fearers of God, listen! The God of our nation Israel chose our ancestors and made our people great when they were living in Egypt, a land not their own; then by divine power he led them out and for about forty years took care of them in the desert. When he had destroyed seven nations in Canaan, he put them in possession of their land for about four hundred and fifty years. After this he gave them judges, down to the prophet Samuel. Then they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years, he deposed him and raised up David to be king, whom he attested in these words, "I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who will perform my entire will." To keep his promise, God has raised up for Israel one of David's descendants, Jesus, as Saviour, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his course he said, "I am not the one you imagine me to be; there is someone coming after me whose sandal I am not fit to undo."


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The journey of the disciples, or rather, the journey of the Word of God, continues towards Antioch in Pisidia. It is here, in the vast region called Asia Minor, present-day Turkey, that Paul wants to communicate the Gospel. He is committed to this choice, even if it caused so much tension that John Mark left them to return to Jerusalem. It is a small sign of the inevitable tensions that arise within the community, but which should not hinder or restrict the missionary drive. Later, Paul will write to the Colossians that John Mark rejoined him and assisted him during his imprisonment (Col 4:10). When he arrives in Antioch in Pisidia, Paul again goes to the Jewish community and is invited to speak in their synagogue during the liturgy the next Sabbath. And it is here that the apostle gives his first great speech to the Jews. Luke has already reported the speech made by Peter and the one made later by Stephen. Now it is Paul who is preaching the Gospel to the Jewish world. And, as he does it, he is well aware of the exalted nature of the people of Israel’s religious vocation. That is why he always goes to meet the Jewish communities in the cities to which he travels as a missionary of the Gospel. But he is also aware - from his own personal experience - of how easy it is to be tempted by the pride of belonging, which makes us indifferent to God and his word. Paul listens to the readings from the law and the prophets as he had done many times in his youth. But this time he listens to them as a Christian, after a profound interior transformation. He feels a responsibility to comment on the entire history of the relationship between God and his people from the perspective of the new Christian vision that has transformed him so deeply. He addresses his audience with respect: "You Israelites, and others who fear God." The apostle is aware of the gravity of the moment and reads the history of God with his people. The passage we heard ends with the testimony of the Baptist who places the people of Israel at the culmination of this long story: "No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on his feet." Maybe few of his listeners knew the Baptist, but he was the last of the prophets who proclaimed the presence of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Memory of the Church