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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

Matthew 23, 1-12

Then addressing the crowds and his disciples Jesus said,

'The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses.

You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practise what they preach.

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people's shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they!

Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader headbands and longer tassels,

like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues,

being greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.

'You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers.

You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and he is in heaven.

Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ.

The greatest among you must be your servant.

Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.


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

Jesus is in the temple and the evangelist reports his last public speech. The entire chapter is a severe admonition to the scribes and Pharisees as well as a reminder to the crowds not to be misled by their teaching. They are not the true shepherds of the Lord’s people. However, Jesus does not attack the Pharisees’ doctrine; indeed, he says that it is just and should be preserved. He rails at their behaviour that is far from the true tradition. Therefore people should listen to the scribes and Pharisees when they teach what Moses commanded, but people should not follow them when they invite them to imitate their behaviour and dispositions. Jesus unveils the split in the conscience of these guides. Obviously this is true for all, even for today’s believers. Often in the Gospel Jesus warns against listening without putting into practice. At the end of long speech of the mount Jesus affirms: "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord", will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21). Observing the Word is the blessing of the believer as Jesus himself responded to the woman who was praising the womb who bore him and the breasts that nursed him: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!" (Lk 11:28). The Pharisees and the scribes exhibit an external religiosity void of inner life, depth and, therefore, also true authority. Wearing the "philacters" (small boxes containing little parchment scrolls with Bible passages that people tied to their arms and the forehead) was not sufficient; and neither was making the "fringes" longer (small purple-blue braids that were sowed at the four corners of the external cloth). It is not even sufficient to look for the first seats at banquets or the first scans in the synagogues to touch the hearts of listeners. One needs inner life, that is a careful and deep listening to the Word of God, first of all for oneself. Only after listening it is possible to communicate what we received. Otherwise one communicates only exteriority and thus hearts will not change. This is why Jesus argues against the "academic" titles that scribes and priests demanded from people and from their disciples. He highlights the most well-known of these titles, "rabbi," which means "my master." At this point - we are at verse 8 - Jesus turns to his disciples as if to warn them from falling into the very same exteriority he criticized in the Pharisees: "But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven" (vv. 8-9). It is the radical statement of fraternity among all disciples that is founded on the only paternity of God as well as on the only "guide" (v. 10) that is Christ. With these words Jesus dismisses any empty democratic idea of the community in order to indicate the centrality of communion among the disciples that is founded on and substantiates of the mystery of God himself, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In this communion the world’s criteria are turned upside down: "The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted" (v. 11-12). This is what Jesus will show to his disciples in a little while during the last supper: he, the Teacher and Lord, will wash his disciples’ feet. It is the path of holiness.

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