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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Job 3,1-3.11-17.20-23

In the end it was Job who broke the silence and cursed the day of his birth. This is what he said: Perish the day on which I was born and the night that told of a boy conceived. Why was I not still-born, or why did I not perish as I left the womb? Why were there knees to receive me, breasts for me to suck? Now I should be lying in peace, wrapped in a restful slumber, with the kings and high viziers of earth who have built their dwellings in desolate places, or with princes who have quantities of gold and silver cramming their tombs; or, put away like an abortive child, I should not have existed, like little ones that never see the light. Down there, the wicked bustle no more, there the weary rest. Why give light to a man of grief? Why give life to those bitter of heart, who long for a death that never comes, and hunt for it more than for buried treasure? They would be glad to see the grave-mound and shout with joy if they reached the tomb. Why give light to one who does not see his way, whom God shuts in all alone?


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The silence of his friends (and how often - as we know from our own experience - we do not know what to say when faced with suffering!) is shattered by Job’s cry, which, like the poor and the sick in the psalms, turns to God in prayer, and his prayer is like a great lament questioning the meaning of the existence of a person who is suffering. So begins Job’s great protest, which questions divine justice, without lashing out against God. It is a recurrent question that human beings have been asking throughout history: why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper? This question will be the dominant theme of the Book of Wisdom. Job does not speak against God. He does not curse. He knows that his God is the Lord of life. But what senses does a life have when it is marked by death and suffering like his? Job calls into question his entire life, from birth to death. His words are sharp and hard. He begins by cursing his birth with language that brings him close to Jeremiah (20:15-18): why could he not have died before he was born, since all he has is darkness? In his words we can see the drama of so many suffering people whose lives are dangling by a thread and who seem to be doomed to death: children who are never born or who are sick, prisoners and those condemned to death, the terminally ill, and the elderly who are abandoned. Job’s words also contain great wisdom: they help us think about the meaning of life and death, which seems inevitable. No one can escape it: it strikes the rich and the poor indiscriminately, the powerful and those who do not count, the prisoner and his jailer, the little and the great, the master and the slave. So why do we wear ourselves out chasing ourselves, Job seems to say. That is how fear enters human life: "Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me."

Memory of the Mother of the Lord