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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 21,37-22,21

Just as Paul was being taken into the fortress, he asked the tribune if he could have a word with him. The tribune said, 'You speak Greek, then? Aren't you the Egyptian who started the recent revolt and led those four thousand cut-throats out into the desert?' 'I?' said Paul, 'I am a Jew and a citizen of the well-known city of Tarsus in Cilicia. Please give me permission to speak to the people.' The man gave his consent and Paul, standing at the top of the steps, raised his hand to the people for silence. A profound silence followed, and he started speaking to them in Hebrew. 'My brothers, my fathers, listen to what I have to say to you in my defence.' When they realised he was speaking in Hebrew, the silence was even greater than before. 'I am a Jew', Paul said, 'and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. It was under Gamaliel that I studied and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you all are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify. I even received letters from them to the brothers in Damascus, which I took with me when I set off to bring prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment. 'It happened that I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when in the middle of the day a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" I answered, "Who are you, Lord?" and he said to me, "I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting." The people with me saw the light but did not hear the voice which spoke to me. I said, "What am I to do, Lord?" The Lord answered, "Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do." Since the light had been so dazzling that I was blind, I got to Damascus only because my companions led me by the hand. 'Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, "Brother Saul, receive your sight." Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Upright One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all humanity, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? Hurry and be baptised and wash away your sins, calling on his name." 'It happened that, when I got back to Jerusalem, and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance and then I saw him. "Hurry," he said, "leave Jerusalem at once; they will not accept the testimony you are giving about me." "Lord," I answered, "they know that I used to go from synagogue to synagogue, imprisoning and flogging those who believed in you; and that when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I, too, was standing by, in full agreement with his murderers, and in charge of their clothes." Then he said to me, "Go! I am sending you out to the gentiles far away." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul, captured by the Roman soldiers for the riot incited by the Jews of the Diaspora, is now on the stairs that lead up to the Antonia Tower, the same tower where Jesus’ trial had taken place some years before. Paul is between the Roman soldiers and the Jewish crowd, a position full of symbolic meaning. At this point, the apostle asks the tribune if he may address the people gathered in front of him. Once Paul is granted permission to speak, he raises his hand and the crowd, hearing him speak in Hebrew, falls silent. Paul does not give a theoretical or doctrinal speech; he simply tells of his life and what happened to him on the way to Damascus. He speaks personally, using the first person pronoun forty times in a passage twenty-one verses long. He gives, in effect, the testimony of his life, and it does not matter how those who listen to him react. Paul understood that the personal witness of one’s life could touch hearts. We could say that beyond all else, his way is an effective way to preach. Preaching, in fact, according to the apostle, is not pronouncing abstract truths, but testifying to how the Gospel works in one’s life and in the lives of those who hear it. If the Gospel remains only a written book, it is like a dead letter to us. Only if it becomes flesh—that is, the concrete life of those who listen to it—is the Gospel credible and a source of new life.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 14 January
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 15 January
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 16 January
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 17 January
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 18 January
Memory of the Church
Friday, 19 January
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 20 January
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 21 January
Liturgy of the Sunday