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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380); she worked for peace, for the unity of Christians, and for the poor.

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 15,22-31

Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose delegates from among themselves to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas, known as Barsabbas, and Silas, both leading men in the brotherhood, and gave them this letter to take with them: 'The apostles and elders, your brothers, send greetings to the brothers of gentile birth in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. We hear that some people coming from here, but acting without any authority from ourselves, have disturbed you with their demands and have unsettled your minds; and so we have decided unanimously to elect delegates and to send them to you with our well-beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have committed their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly we are sending you Judas and Silas, who will confirm by word of mouth what we have written. It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to impose on you any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from illicit marriages. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.' The party left and went down to Antioch, where they summoned the whole community and delivered the letter. The community read it and were delighted with the encouragement it gave them.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

At the end of the first general assembly in Jerusalem, which was attended by Paul and Barnabas, all those who were present approved what said by James. They wrote the first "conciliar decree," which was then brought to the community in Antioch, where the question had been the most bitterly divisive. We could say that this council ratified the differences between Judaism and Christianity. Until then, the Christian community had been more of a group within Judaism than a new community. The assembly of Jerusalem - guided by the Spirit - clarified that salvation came from the Gospel and not from ritual practices. This is why the letter said: "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden." From then on the distinction between Christianity and Judaism became clearer, even if it did not erase the close and unbreakable relationship between the two religions. One could even say that a deep and vital relationship with Judaism is very much a part of Christian identity. Not only are there common roots between the two religions, but in a certain way they also share a common expectation. The Jews are still waiting for the Messiah. Christians know that the Messiah has already come and yet, at the same time, they are waiting his second coming at the end of time. In this expectation we are all united. Christians know that Jesus started the new time of the kingdom of God; with his death and resurrection he defeated death and opened the new kingdom. This newness is certainly a gift, but it is also a responsibility. We all need to work to transform the world through the leavening of the Gospel. And among the responsibilities that now can be seen clearly is the responsibility to fight any sign of anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, in the past this was not always so. Consequently, it is good to keep alive lively dialogue and "fraternal" encounter with the Jews, which whom we are united in a special and unbreakable way.

Memory of Jesus crucified