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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

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Ecclesiastes 8,1-9

Who compares with the sage? Who else knows how to explain things? Wisdom lights up the face, enlivening a grim expression.

Obey the king's command and, because of the divine promise,

be in no hurry to depart from it; do not be obstinate in a bad cause, since the king will do as he likes in any case.

Since the word of a king is sovereign, what is the point of saying, 'Why do that?'

One who obeys the command will come to no harm; the heart of the sage knows the right moment and verdict,

for there is a right moment and verdict for everything; but misfortune lies heavy upon anyone

who does not know what the outcome will be, no one is going to say how things will turn out.

No one can control the wind and stop it from blowing, no one can control the day of death. From war there is no escape, no more can wickedness save the person who commits it.

I have seen all this to be so, having carefully studied everything taking place under the sun, while one person tyrannises over another to the former's detriment.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Qohelet has already warned (cf. 3:1-9) that there is a "time" for everything. And the one who knows "the interpretation of a thing" (v. 1), that is, who can interpret reality correctly is wise. The ideal of wisdom is therefore not an abstract knowledge, but the ability to make a historical judgment of one’s era. But who has this wisdom? Qohelet, who is never categorical, replies that "no one knows." He, therefore, leaves open a possibility. But whoever is capable of such wisdom has a luminous appearance; their face loses its hardness and the impudence of the superficial. Rather they have a look of tolerance and benevolence toward reality. In short, wisdom brings about a spiritual elegance and the absence of hardness. Qohelet then chooses an example: how to behave before the king. Since the king has power to do "whatever he pleases" (v. 3b) it is prudent to not "delay when the matter is unpleasant" (v. 3), that is, be disloyal to him. It is necessary to ponder well when to be faithful to him and when to not heed his orders. Not all situations are the same. Wisdom can judge the opportune times. This attitude toward the commands of the king should likewise be observed in the face of "evil." Evil falls upon human life continuously, and it is a burden which cannot easily be shaken off. It is necessary to discern wisely the way to avoid being crushed. Ignorance of the future (v. 7), or rather "ignorance of the future consequences" of one’s conduct does not allow one to easily choose the way or the moment in which to avoid evil. Much vigilance is necessary. Qohelet warns: "No one has power over the wind to restrain the wind, or power over the day of death; there is discharge from the battle, nor does wickedness deliver those who practice it" (v. 8). Human existence is comparable to a war that cannot be escaped: we are always in a situation of struggle. And we cannot allow ourselves to do evil, thinking it will fall only on others. No one can flee the battle of life and even wisdom has its own insurmountable limits. Qohelet does not counsel abandoning the search for wisdom nor does he resign himself to a nihilistic scepticism; but he is aware of the limits that the reality of existence imposes on each person. To go beyond Qohelet, but always in the path of faith, once again the believer finds his rock and his fortress only in the Lord.

Memory of Jesus crucified

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 19 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 20 November
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 21 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 22 November
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 23 November
Memory of the Church
Friday, 24 November
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 25 November
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 26 November
Liturgy of the Sunday