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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Benedict (+547), father of western monks and their guide through the rule that carries his name.

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

Isaiah 1,10-17

Hear what Yahweh says, you rulers of Sodom; listen to what our God teaches, you people of Gomorrah. 'What are your endless sacrifices to me?' says Yahweh. 'I am sick of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of calves. I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come and present yourselves before me, who has asked you to trample through my courts? Bring no more futile cereal offerings, the smoke from them fills me with disgust. New Moons, Sabbaths, assemblies -- I cannot endure solemnity combined with guilt. Your New Moons and your meetings I utterly detest; to me they are a burden I am tired of bearing. When you stretch out your hands I turn my eyes away. You may multiply your prayers, I shall not be listening. Your hands are covered in blood, wash, make yourselves clean. Take your wrong-doing out of my sight. Cease doing evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, discipline the violent, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The second part of the prophet’s diatribe, which occupies the entire first chapter of the book of Isaiah, opens with an invitation to listen the word of the Lord addressed to the leaders and the people. The prophet insists that they listen to the word of the Lord. It is in faithfully listening to the word of the Lord, in fact, that we can nourish a hope for salvation even in the most difficult situations. The whole of Israel, its leaders and its people, is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities that were stained with the sin of inhospitality to strangers and consequently had been destroyed. This similarity is a harbinger of a similar fate. The prophet’s diatribe is harsh and definitive: "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt-offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts." And he adds a strict injunction: "Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and calling of convocation - I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. " These are words of unusual harshness. Indeed, faced with similar behaviour, the prophet Hosea had God respond: "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings" (6:6). Not only is the Lord not pleased, he is disgusted by any religious act that is not accompanied by mercy and compassion. This passage of the prophet Isaiah resonates with even more urgency in this year in which Pope Francis wants to open our hearts and minds to accept and understand the mercy of the Lord, which already appears in all its power in the Old Testament as the cornerstone of the action of God in history. It is in this theme of spiritual depth that Isaiah helps us to understand that is not enough to reach out our hands to God in prayer if they are not full of love and justice for those who are weak and poor. God himself invites us to enter into a conversation with him, so that we will cease doing evil and learn to do good and love the poor. And even if our sins are serious, even if we obstinately continue to listen only to ourselves, the Lord, who is truly the friend of men and women, is ready to forgive us and renew our lives, if we let ourselves be filled with his mercy?.

Memory of the Poor