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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 22, 34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees they got together

and, to put him to the test, one of them put a further question,

'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?'

Jesus said to him, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself.

On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This Gospel passage places us in the climate of fierce controversy that surrounded Jesus and the various factions of Jerusalem. Jesus had just replied to the Sadducees in an argument about the resurrection of the dead. After the Sadducees had been defeated by Jesus’ responses, the Pharisees appear. The violence of evil continues to test every generation of Christians to try to lead them far from God and from the teachings of the Gospel. The Pharisees organized themselves and put Jesus to the test once again. One of them asks him about the heart of the Law: "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" Jesus’ response is immediate and clear: love of God and love of neighbour together form the hinge upon which hang "all the law and the prophets." The various religious traditions within Judaism had codified 613 precepts, 365 of which were negative and 248 of which were positive. A notable number of prescriptions, even if not all of them have equal value. It was clear however which held primacy: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deut 6:4-5). The precept to love your neighbour is also well known. The originality of Jesus’ answer does not lie in calling to mind both commandments, but in binding them together tightly to the point of unifying them. The commandment to love your neighbour is absorbed into the first and greatest commandment to love God totally and completely—for it belongs to the same unifying and fundamental category. Jesus affirms that the path that arrives to God intersects necessarily with the path that leads us to others. Both the legalism of the Pharisees and ritual spiritualism are defeated in their roots. Love for God and love for neighbour contain the entire Law. Jesus was the first to observe this double commandment and he remains the greatest example we can follow to love God and neighbour. Jesus did not put anything before his love for the Father, not even his own life. He gave everything for his love for men and women, even his life. And the first people he loved were the poor and weak: he healed and protected them. By defending them, we defend God. The evangelist John even says that "we have passed from death to life because we love one another" (1 Jn 3:14). But not only. God does not seem to compete with love for men and women; in a certain sense he does not insist on the reciprocity of love, although obviously it should exist. Jesus does not say: "Love me as I have loved you," but: "Love one another as I have loved you."

Memory of Jesus crucified

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