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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memory of Saint Anthony the Abbot. He followed the Lord into the Egyptian desert and was father of many monks. A day of reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

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

Mark 2, 18-22

John's disciples and the Pharisees were keeping a fast, when some people came to him and said to him, 'Why is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?'

Jesus replied, 'Surely the bridegroom's attendants cannot fast while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast.

No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.

And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine into fresh skins!'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist speaks of the disciples, of John the Baptist, and of the Pharisees, who by voluntary fasting, boast of perfect religious behaviour. It was not about the obligatory fast that also Jesus would observe. Rather, there were various spiritual teachers who, like the Pharisees, chose freely to add voluntary fasts to the mandatory ones. The Pharisees wanted to notice the difference between the two behaviours. What Jesus demanded of his disciples was milder, less strict than what John and the Pharisees asked. In sum, they were criticizing quite openly that teacher who appeared to be not too demanding with his disciples. Jesus, with a parabolic language, answers that the bridegroom’s friends cannot fast when he is with them. Actually they need to rejoice and celebrate. His listeners could understand in the image of the bridegroom the reference to the Lord and his relationship with Israel, often indicated with a spousal image. In any event, it is not by multiplying fasts that the hearts change. Our heart will change if we welcome Jesus as the bridegroom. Jesus knows well that salvation and the consequent beatitude are reached by making room for the Gospel in our hearts and not simply practicing ascetic rituals. Certainly there will be difficult times to come for the disciples, and they will be able to face them with courage for their hearts are full of love and trust. They know that their strength is the Lord. That will be the time when they will fast. Through two images, Jesus clarifies that external practices do not save; instead, the adhesion to the bridegroom and his Gospel will redeem. The Gospel is the new wine that requires new hearts, even more, it makes new the hearts that receive it. A heart full of itself and of its deeds is like an old wineskin that is unable to receive the gospel newness. The Gospel is also the new cloth woven with threads of love that has nothing to do with the old and worn-out cloth of our egocentrism. The disciples have understood that salvation is not achieved in boasting of their deeds, even the good ones like fasting, but in loving Jesus above everything else, like the bride loves her bridegroom.

Memory of the Poor

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