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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 16,1-10

From there he went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra, where there was a disciple called Timothy, whose mother was Jewish and had become a believer; but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him, and Paul, who wanted to have him as a travelling companion, had him circumcised. This was on account of the Jews in the locality where everyone knew his father was a Greek. As they visited one town after another, they passed on the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, with instructions to observe them. So the churches grew strong in the faith, as well as growing daily in numbers. They travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, because they had been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they tried to go into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas. One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, 'Come across to Macedonia and help us.' Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Chapter 16 of Acts shows how the Word of God crosses the borders of Asia. The author stresses that the decision to go to Europe did not come from any strategy devised by Paul, but from a demand rising up from the very heart of the Empire. This is the meaning of the Macedonians’ appeal. A European man appears to Paul in a vision: "There stood a man from Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us!’" It is a pressing invitation, almost an order. But it is still a vision. The apostle does not accomplish his mission with his head down; he does not carry out his task of proclaiming the Gospel as a cold employee. He reflects on how the Gospel could be proclaimed all over the world: he turns his gaze towards those who are in need, he worries because so many people are waiting, he wonders how to preach, how to touch people’s hearts. In short, Paul has a vision for his mission. Ever since that day, that vision has been coming true. Paul responded to this cry arising from Europe, and, in a sense, from the entire West. The Gospel had to cross over the borders - important, but narrow - of Asia Minor, to enter Europe, the heart of the Roman Empire. It must be said that this cry for help still resounds strongly today: it rises from the countries of Eastern Europe, who were first oppressed behind the iron curtain and now have become disillusioned and abandoned by the consumer society. But it also rises from rich Europe: it is the voice of the millions of poor people and the rich who have lost sight of the values on which Europe was founded. But it is not the turn of Europe - the European Christian Churches - to listen to the cry for help from poor countries, as Paul did, the cry of those oppressed by violence and war, especially the people of the South of the world. Our Churches must have a "vision," that is, they cannot remain turned in on themselves and their own problems, which are often problems of organization. They must think big. Just as Europe was once helped by Paul, it now must help the many people in the world who continue to cry out, often without being heard. Paul’s journey from the East to the West invites everyone, especially the rich countries, not to remain deaf to the many Macedonians of the world who continue to cry out: "Come over to us and help us!"

Sunday Vigil