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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 8, 27-33

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?'

And they told him, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.'

'But you,' he asked them, 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.'

And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of man was destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again;

and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter tried to rebuke him.

But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus is with his disciples in the pagan territory of the tetrarch Philip, which contained the city of Caesarea, named by Philip in honour of Augustus Caesar. Perhaps because he is far from the Jews, here Jesus can freely touch on the messianic theme without fear of being misunderstood. Jesus asks his disciples about the rumours that were being spread about him. "Who do people say that I am?" In the Gospel of Mark, this question asked by Jesus is so important that is actually occupies the physical centre of the narrative. And so it is in our time as well. "Who is Jesus?" I think it necessary for the generation of this new millennium to ask itself this question again. Jesus is at the northern border of Palestine, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of the lake of Galilee. The evangelist seems to suggest that Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem begins here. And its beginning is marked by Peter’s profession. The disciples answer Jesus’ question by telling him what the people think. But this all seems of little interest to Jesus. In fact, he immediately turns to the disciples and asks them: "But who do you say that I am?" Peter’s answer is clear: "You are the Christ!" which means Messiah, that is, the one consecrated by God. And Peter did well to confess his faith. It was the right way to begin that journey. It is the right way for us to begin this new century. And yet it is a faith that is still fragile, which needs to be nourished by the Gospel. In fact, Jesus is forced to disavow him harshly immediately afterwards. After hearing the prophecy of the passion, that is, of the establishment of a kingdom that would require the death of the Messiah, Peter objects. His complete refusal of the passion keeps Peter from listening to the announcement of the resurrection, which is just as clear in the Teacher’s words. Self-sufficiency and pride keep Peter from welcoming the Gospel in its fullness. And Jesus cannot but firmly reject Peter’s words. With unheard of harshness, Jesus compares him to the prince of evil, Satan: "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." Jesus invites the apostle to take his place behind him, that is, to begin listening again, and not to let himself be guided by his reasoning and his convictions. Peter, the first of the apostles, is called to return to being the first of the disciples, the first of those who listen.

Memory of the Church

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