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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Sirach 48,1-14

Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch. It was he who brought famine on them and decimated them in his zeal. By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, three times also he brought down fire. How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah! Has anyone reason to boast as you have?- rousing a corpse from death, from Sheol, by the word of the Most High; dragging kings down to destruction, and high dignitaries from their beds; hearing a rebuke on Sinai and decrees of punishment on Horeb; anointing kings as avengers, and prophets to succeed you; taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses; designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God's wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob. Blessed, those who will see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love; for we too shall certainly have life. Such was Elijah, who was enveloped in a whirlwind; and Elisha was filled with his spirit; throughout his life no ruler could shake him, and no one could subdue him. No task was too hard for him, and even in death his body prophesied. In his lifetime he performed wonders, and in death his works were marvellous.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today the Word of God presents Elijah, both in the first reading from Sirach and in the Gospel of Matthew (17:10-13) where Jesus speaks of Elijah as he comes down from the mountain after the Transfiguration. Tradition at that time expected Elijah before the Messiah. In reality, Jesus confirms that he has already come. But he meant John the Baptist. Sirach presents Elijah with harsh words: "Then Elijah arose, a prophet like fire, and his word burned like a torch." The people of God had hardened their hearts and obstinately behaved violently and sinfully. It is easy to refuse to listen to the Word of God even if it is proclaimed so abundantly in our lives. While the Lord involves us in his dream of peace for the world—almost previewing the flow of history with his word—pride blinds us and prevents us from being amazed at God’s work and from gratefully enjoying it. Instead, the Word of the Lord overcomes our habit of taking things for granted, and surprises us with its novelty. "From this time forward I make you hear new things, hidden things that you have not known. They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, so that you could not say, ‘I already knew them.’" (Is 48: 6-7). If the words of the prophets seem already known, if they do not surprise us, if they do not reach the depths of our hearts, it is because we are too sure of being able to hear and live those words. In fact, we listen to ourselves and our habits. The Lord comes though and raises up prophets to shake our hearts. In this time that needs such great changes, the Lord makes Elijah, the new prophet, resound in our ears. The preaching we hear in these times, and not only that of Pope Francis, indeed similar to Elijah, continues to come down "three times like fire" into our hearts. Many are the marvels in which we participate. Isn’t there a fire that flames up and that "leads the heart of the father toward his children?" It is this fire of preaching that wants to involve all of us in Elijah’s prophecy, so that every wound may be healed and brotherhood made whole again.

Memory of the Church