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The Everyday Prayer

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

In the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere the Community of Sant’Egidio prays for the sick.
Muslims start the month of Ramadan.

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

1 Kings 17,1-6

Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'By the life of Yahweh, God of Israel, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain these coming years unless I give the word.' The word of Yahweh came to him, 'Go away from here, go east and hide by the torrent of Cherith, east of the Jordan. You can drink from the stream, and I have ordered the ravens to bring you food there.' So he set out and did as Yahweh had said; he went and stayed by the torrent of Cherith, east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread in the morning and meat in the evening, and he quenched his thirst at the stream.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The name of Elijah, which means "Yahweh is my God," summarizes the prophet’s entire life. He is a man of Yahweh—in a moment in which religious crisis was at its apex: not only had the people of Israel distanced themselves from faith but they had chosen to follow idols. Driven by his wife, Jezebel, the Phoenician princess, king Ahab supported the cult of Baal dedicating a sanctuary to him in the capital and campaigning against Yahwism to the point of killing prophets. In this dramatic context the Lord sends Elijah. He appears suddenly, not being announced. He is not called a prophet but he claims to be in God’s presence and decrees a drought on the basis of his own authority. We could say his strength comes only from his word, that is, from his immediate and total obedience to the word of Yahweh. Only with the strength of the Word of God could Elijah challenge the abyss of disbelief into which Israel had fallen. His task appears in a crucial moment of Israel’s history, as did that of Moses. Perhaps for this reason he has represented prophecy at the side of Moses who represented the Law (Mk 9:4). Elijah proclaims a hard drought upon the region: "There shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word" (v. 1). It is the sign of Yahweh’s struggle against Baal, who the Israelites believed was the god of rain. The prophet begins his struggle against this idolatry in a direct way. He knew the faith reported in Leviticus: "But if you will not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and abhor my ordinances ... I will bring terror on you; consumption and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. You shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it...I will break your proud glory, and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like copper. Your strength shall be spent to no purpose: your land shall not yield its produce, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit" (Lev 26:14-20). During this terrible scourge, the Lord sends Elijah to the canyons of the Cherithriver. This place is more than a refuge. It signifies a place aside, far removed from ordinary worries, so that the Lord can transform the disciples’ hearts to grow in wisdom. It is not a coincidence that in the Life of Anthony, which had a notable influence in the west and east, Elijah is the archetype of the monk who dedicates his entire life to the Lord and who is completely sustained by the Lord. The prophet, like the disciple, is nourished by God. The text says: "The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening" (v. 6). The ravens can seem a strange presence given that they are cited in Leviticus as impure animals (11:15) and yet they are the ones that bring food to the prophet. That which could seem inept is chosen by God to sustain His children.

Prayer for the Sick