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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Father Aleksandr Men’, Orthodox priest from Moscow, barbarically murdered in 1990.

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 Corinthians 9,16-19.22-27

In fact, preaching the gospel gives me nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion and I should be in trouble if I failed to do it. If I did it on my own initiative I would deserve a reward; but if I do it under compulsion I am simply accepting a task entrusted to me. What reward do I have, then? That in my preaching I offer the gospel free of charge to avoid using the rights which the gospel allows me. So though I was not a slave to any human being, I put myself in slavery to all people, to win as many as I could. To the weak, I made myself weak, to win the weak. I accommodated myself to people in all kinds of different situations, so that by all possible means I might bring some to salvation. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, that I may share its benefits with others. Do you not realise that, though all the runners in the stadium take part in the race, only one of them gets the prize? Run like that -- to win. Every athlete concentrates completely on training, and this is to win a wreath that will wither, whereas ours will never wither. So that is how I run, not without a clear goal; and how I box, not wasting blows on air. I punish my body and bring it under control, to avoid any risk that, having acted as herald for others, I myself may be disqualified.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The true freedom that Paul witnesses to and proclaims to us is the freedom of making himself a "slave to all" in order to communicate the Gospel. With the strength that comes from the testimony of his life, the apostle combines two statements: even though he is "free with respect to all" he is a slave to all." We can hear an echo of Jesus’ own words: "But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant" (Mk 10:43). This is not an ascetic exercise intended to perfect the soul. The apostle has become a slave in order to win over as many people as possible to Christ. He repeats the verb "to win" five times in just a few lines, linking it to another verb, "to save." The apostle’s heart does not beat for itself, but expands to embrace the world: "I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some." Not only does he not exclude anyone (whether Jewish or gentile), but he does not seem to let himself rest until he has reached as many people as possible. This is his contest, his race, to which he dedicates his entire life. This testimony should resound especially strongly for the Christians living at the beginning of this new millennium. Once again, Paul comes into our midst as the one who knows how to welcome the universal spirit of Jesus’ preaching and make it the foundation of his life. We could say that he was the first one to make the globalization of love a reality, defeating all close-mindedness, every boundary, and every ethnic and even religious division. The apostle wants to reach the entire world. He has Rome on his mind, the capital of the empire, and he even wants to go as far as Spain, the empire’s farthest reaches. Even today, Paul remains the example for every Christian community of how to communicate the Gospel all the way to the ends of the earth. Once again, the problem is not an external one. For example, we do not know if Paul ever made it to Spain. What matters is the universality of the heart. It is here, in our heart, that boundaries and barriers must be brought down. They are traced out in the hearts and minds of people before they exist on the outside. ?

Memory of Jesus crucified