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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

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Revelation 13,11-18

Then I saw a second beast, emerging from the ground; it had two horns like a lamb, but made a noise like a dragon.

This second beast exercised all the power of the first beast, on its behalf making the world and all its people worship the first beast, whose deadly injury had healed.

And it worked great miracles, even to calling down fire from heaven onto the earth while people watched.

Through the miracles which it was allowed to do on behalf of the first beast, it was able to lead astray the people of the world and persuade them to put up a statue in honour of the beast that had been wounded by the sword and still lived.

It was allowed to breathe life into this statue, so that the statue of the beast was able to speak, and to have anyone who refused to worship the statue of the beast put to death.

It compelled everyone -- small and great alike, rich and poor, slave and citizen -- to be branded on the right hand or on the forehead,

and made it illegal for anyone to buy or sell anything unless he had been branded with the name of the beast or with the number of its name.

There is need for shrewdness here: anyone clever may interpret the number of the beast: it is the number of a human being, the number 666.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John sees another Beast rise from the earth. If the first Beast represents totalitarian political power, the second symbolizes the idolatrous cult of personality that power demands. In some ways, this second Beast is more dangerous than the first, because it is more devious and active. The author repeats the Greek verb "to do/to make" eight times. This Beast "does" and "makes," that is, it exercises the power delegated by the first one. It "makes" the earth adore the first Beast (v. 12); it "performs" great signs; it "makes" fire come down from heaven (v. 13); and with these signs that it "performs" it seduces men and women, inviting them to "make" a statue in honour of the first Beast (v.14). It "causes" those who do not worship the statue to be put to death (v. 15) and it "causes" everyone to be given the mark of the Beast (v. 16-17). This Beast is primarily represented as active and in service to the Beast from the sea. Its danger lies in the fact that it disguises itself as a lamb, while in reality its voice is the demonic voice of the dragon. Jesus had warned his disciples: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves" (Mt 7:15). The "false prophet" will appear several times in Revelation (16:13, 19:20, 20:10). This Beast from the earth "exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf," that is, it exists in reference to the first beast and is obedient to the Dragon. It exercises its power above all through words, propaganda, ideology, and deceitful arguments. Consequently, it has enormous capabilities. In fact, with its prodigious and spectacular works it is able to attract and seduce "all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave" and it puts its mark on everyone. We could say that this Beast well represents that culture of death and violence that seems to be enveloping the planet more and more: it is the culture of hatred, the ideology of war, the idea of strength without mercy, the practice of justice without forgiveness, the culture of the death penalty, the ideology of absolute pleasure, the practice of euthanasia, and many other forms that mark the minds of countless people. Believers are called to live and communicate another kind of wisdom, which comes from heaven and is opposed to both the Beast who comes from the sea and the Beast that comes from the earth.

Memory of the Poor

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