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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

Matthew 5, 38-42

'You have heard how it was said: Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.

But I say this to you: offer no resistance to the wicked. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well;

if someone wishes to go to law with you to get your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.

And if anyone requires you to go one mile, go two miles with him.

Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone wants to borrow, do not turn away.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

With this Monday after Pentecost the "Ordinary Time", which started in the week of January after Jesus’ Baptism and continued through Lent, starts again. The word "ordinary" is not to be intended as any time and even less as a time that is banal; rather it is the time in which no particular celebration of the Lord is remembered. In this time we are invited to live and witness the richness of Christ’s mystery that we have celebrated during the year. In sum, it is a time in which we should live according to the Spirit. This is why in the past it was called the "Time after Pentecost." The Spirit is love poured in our hearts. The Gospel passage from Matthew reminds us of it. The passage reports the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus deals with the theme of God’s "justice." Creating a pattern of opposites, Jesus takes the passage from the Old Testament that proposes the lex talionis ("an eye for an eye," etc.) and opposes it with love. The lex talionis was originally intended to control the practice of revenge to keep it from becoming unlimited and implacable. Its intention was to prevent excess. But Jesus goes even deeper; he wants to defeat the instinct for revenge at its roots and so break the inexorable spiral of violence. Evil retains all of its strength even when it is regulated the way the lex talionis intended. The only way to defeat it is to uproot it entirely. And the way to uproot evil proposed by Jesus - the only truly effective way - is the way of overabundant love. Evil cannot be defeated by more evil - even if well-regulated - but only by generous love. Jesus overturns the common way of thinking of his time - which is still common today - and asks his disciples not only to banish revenge from their behaviour, but even to turn the other cheek to the person who has already slapped them. Jesus is obviously not trying to create a new rule - the rule of "the other cheek", as some have said to mock his words - nor does Jesus favour a masochistic or submissive attitude towards evil. It is impossible to claim that Jesus, in his own life, did not strongly and deeply oppose evil. Jesus is always struggling against sin, injustice, sickness, and even that most extreme manifestation of evil, death. He came to bring to men and women a new way of living that is totally centred on love. It is love that renews the heart and makes life free. If someone loves, s/he offers her/his coat to the one who asks and walks twice as far with the person who asks for company; s/he does not turn her/his back on those who ask for help. With love we can defeat injustice at its birth and open the way to a dignified life.

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