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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

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Ecclesiastes 9,13-18

Here is another example of the wisdom I have acquired under the sun and it strikes me as important:

There was once a small town, with only a few inhabitants; a mighty king made war on it, laying siege to it and building great siege-works round it.

But there was in that town a poverty-stricken sage who by his wisdom saved the town. No one remembered this poor man afterwards.

So I say: Wisdom is more effective than brute force, but the wisdom of a poor man is not valued: no one listens to what he has to say.

The calm words of the wise make themselves heard above the shouts of someone commanding an army of fools.

Wisdom is worth more than weapons of war, but a single sin undoes a deal of good.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

With a little parable, Qohelet shows the "weak strength" of wisdom (vv. 13-16). The little city, besieged by a "great king," is saved by the wisdom of a poor man who, however, was wise. Qohelet’s clear teaching is that wisdom has a power superior to that of politics or weapons. It is a "weak" power precisely in the sense that it is not tied to worldly means. And, in effect, it is often despised by humans: "Yet the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heeded" (v. 16). In truth, it is the "strongest" of the means of this world. It is a teaching that crosses many pages of Scripture. In Proverbs, for example, we read: "One wise person went up a city of warriors and brought down the stronghold in which they trusted" (21:22). But humans cannot in any case understand the weak strength of wisdom. Qohelet notes that: "no one remembered that poor man" (v. 15). No one showed gratitude for this extraordinary action. Despite the inability to adequately appreciate who is wise, Qohelet reaffirms: "Wisdom is better than might" (v. 16). As a comment to this parable, there follows a proverb that sounds something like this: "The words of the wise, calmly said, are more worthy to be heard than the shouts of the king of madmen." We often hear the one who shouts louder and not the one who speaks more wisely. With another proverb, the author wants to show the ease with which we can thwart wisdom. Wisdom is strong in itself. It is more powerful than weapons of war, notes Qohelet. But we can thwart it with our foolishness and our superficiality.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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