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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 7, 40-53

Some of the crowd who had been listening said, 'He is indeed the prophet,'

and some said, 'He is the Christ,' but others said, 'Would the Christ come from Galilee?

Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from Bethlehem, the village where David was?'

So the people could not agree about him.

Some wanted to arrest him, but no one actually laid a hand on him.

The guards went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, 'Why haven't you brought him?'

The guards replied, 'No one has ever spoken like this man.'

'So,' the Pharisees answered, 'you, too, have been led astray?

Have any of the authorities come to believe in him? Any of the Pharisees?

This rabble knows nothing about the Law -- they are damned.'

One of them, Nicodemus -- the same man who had come to Jesus earlier -- said to them,

'But surely our Law does not allow us to pass judgement on anyone without first giving him a hearing and discovering what he is doing?'

To this they answered, 'Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not arise in Galilee.'

They all went home,


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This Gospel passage once again has us stop in the temple in Jerusalem, during the festival of Booths, while Jesus debates with his opponents about his mission. In this passage, the evangelist reports the different reactions the people have to Jesus’ words. Some admire and recognize him as a prophet, and others even believe he is the Messiah. Indeed, a debate arises among them. In fact, the Gospel always leads to such questions. It is not just a book like any other. It often urges us to decide whether we will be with those who follow it or with those who do not. Indeed, it is not uncommon for the Gospel to cause divisions within the heart of each of us. How many times have we felt the attraction of these words and let ourselves be changed by them? But how many other times have we pushed them away out of laziness, pride, or because they demand too much? That day in the temple a debate of this very kind arose. But Jesus’ words carried so much authority that no one dared to lay hand on him. Guards were even sent to arrest him, but after hearing him speak they did not have the courage to do so. They let him go. When the Pharisees rebuked them for not arresting Jesus, they responded with a frankness that irritated them all the more: Never has anyone spoken like this. The Word of God is powerful, and it never leaves those who hear it indifferent. Even when people are only partially open to them, these words are not without effect. This is what happened to the guards. Even though they did not follow Jesus, as his disciples did, they were still amazed by him. Of course, the power of the Gospel is a weak force, but it is stronger than human weapons. It is in this sense that the Apostle Paul, in chains, can write to Timothy that the Word of God is not chained (2 Tm 2:9). The power of the Gospel is the power that comes from freely offering a sublime love that knows no boundaries: the Gospel teaches us to love others before ourselves. It evens asks us to love our enemies. Indeed, words like these had never been heard on earth. And their depth and breadth still have never been surpassed. Even today, no one teaches that the truly blessed are the poor, the non-violent, the meek, and those who work for peace and justice. The entire Gospel is marked by this love. Among those Pharisees only Nicodemus, who had met and spoken with Jesus at length, objects to his colleagues’ blindness and speaks in Jesus’ defence, Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it? But the Pharisees rebuked him too. Their eyes were totally blinded and their hearts had become hardened. They do not even yield to facts, but remain trapped in their stubbornness. That is what the last words of the passage suggest: each of them went home, back to their ordinary lives. Only by listening continuously to Jesus’ Word, as Nicodemus had done, can we open our eyes and heart to this extraordinary Teacher and be welcomed into his house and his community, the new house that he came to build among men and women.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 15 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 16 October
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 17 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 18 October
Memory of the Apostles
Thursday, 19 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 20 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 21 October
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday