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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

James 5,13-20

Any one of you who is in trouble should pray; anyone in good spirits should sing a psalm. Any one of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another to be cured; the heartfelt prayer of someone upright works very powerfully. Elijah was a human being as frail as ourselves -- he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell for three and a half years; then he prayed again and the sky gave rain and the earth gave crops. My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth, and another brings him back to it, he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from his erring ways will be saving his soul from death and covering over many a sin.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this conclusive part of the Letter, James calls Christians to not hide behind high-sounding religious words (this is the meaning of swearing), but instead to faithfully carry out the Gospel. A Christian is the disciple of a Teacher, that—as Paul writes to Timothy, "who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession" (1 Tim 6:13). And Cyril of Alexandria comments, "May the testimony of our life be stronger than an oath." James reminds us therefore not to feel down in moments of sickness, when we touch our weakness with our hands. Illness must not be the reason for desperation but an invitation to prayer—both personal and communal—so the Lord will comfort us with his support, in his mercy, and grant us his healing. If illness divides, distances, and even physically separates us from our brothers and sisters, prayer unites us and grants us to feel Jesus’ presence as a good doctor who wants the healing and salvation of men and women. James’ exhortation is very opportune also in our times: it awakens in us and in the Christian community the urgency of praying for healing, which is often forgotten in a distracted and disbelieving society. Certainly, prayer should be done with faith, with a contrite heart ("confess your sins…") and with insistence, as did Elijah, whose prayer was answered by the Lord. James reminds believers of the strength of prayer, knowing well that nothing is impossible with God. The comment of Soloviev, which recalls James’ letter is significant: "Faith without works is dead; prayer is the first work of faith." The ending of the letter, which ties back to the beginning, recalls the value of leading back to the Lord those who are lost. Brotherly love renders the disciples responsible for each other: and on this path the disciples find their salvation.

Sunday Vigil