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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

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 25,13-21

Some days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul's case before the king, saying, 'There is a man here whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

King Agrippa II and his sister Bernice have come from Caesarea to Jerusalem to greet Festus, the Roman procurator, a meeting that Luke places here almost as an interlude. Festus summarizes the trial for Agrippa. The procurator cuts to the heart of the problem: the accused, Paul, affirms that a certain Jesus, whom the Jews believe to be dead, is instead alive. That is to say that this is the centre of the apostle’s preaching, a fact which also emerges from all of his letters: the death and resurrection of Jesus are the cornerstones of Paul’s Gospel. To believe that Jesus is risen from the dead means that he has defeated evil and its first fruit, which is, indeed, death. That is why he is called the "Christ," the one sent by God, and "Lord." And every time that we say, "our Lord Jesus Christ," we mean that Jesus of Nazareth was sent by God to this earth and that God made him Lord, that is, the one who defeats evil and death. This proclamation was totally new: with the resurrection of Jesus, human life was no longer closed within the horizons of the earth, but opened to new, unimagined and perhaps unimaginable horizons. It is the greatest gift God could give humanity. So much so that on the night of Holy Saturday, the Church sings of Adam’s "happy fault" that led to the coming of the Saviour. In order to communicate this hope, which is the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul faced difficulties and dangers of every kind and now is facing a lengthy trial. He is among the ranks of the first disciples who gave their lives to testify to the resurrection of the Lord. Over the course of centuries, many others have followed on this road. In the last century millions of Christians, in gulags and concentration camps, have paid for this faith with their death, keeping the world from sinking even lower. And even this new millennium has been marked by new ranks of Christian martyrs. All of these brothers and sisters stand before us to show us the preciousness and the strength of Christ’s love, which pushes us to give our lives for the Lord and our brothers and sisters.

Memory of Jesus crucified