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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

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Proverbs 21, 1-31

Like flowing water is a king's heart in Yahweh's hand; he directs it wherever he pleases.

All actions are straight in the doer's own eyes, but it is Yahweh who weighs hearts.

To do what is upright and just is more pleasing to Yahweh than sacrifice.

Haughty eye, proud heart, lamp of the wicked, nothing but sin.

The hardworking is thoughtful, and all is gain; too much haste, and all that comes of it is want.

To make a fortune with the help of a lying tongue: such is the idle fantasy of those who look for death.

The violence of the wicked proves their ruin, for they refuse to do what is right.

The way of the felon is devious, the conduct of the innocent straight.

Better the corner of a roof to live on than a house shared with a quarrelsome woman.

The soul of the wicked is intent on evil, to such a person no neighbour can ever do right.

When a cynic is punished, simpletons grow wiser, but someone of understanding acquires knowledge by instruction.

The Upright One watches the house of the wicked; he hurls the wicked to destruction.

Whoever refuses to listen to the cry of the weak, will in turn plead and not be heard.

Anger is mollified by a covert gift, raging fury by a present under cover of the cloak.

Doing what is right fills the upright with joy, but evil-doers with terror.

Whoever strays far from the way of prudence will rest in the assembly of shadows.

Pleasure-lovers stay poor, no one will grow rich who loves wine and good living.

The wicked is a ransom for the upright; and the law-breaker for the honest.

Better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and irritable woman.

The wise has valuables and oil at home, but a fool soon runs through both.

Whoever pursues uprightness and faithful love will find life, uprightness and honour.

A sage can scale a garrisoned city and shatter the rampart on which it relied.

Watch kept over mouth and tongue keeps the watcher safe from disaster.

Insolent, haughty -- the name is 'Cynic'; overweening pride marks such behaviour.

The idler's desires are the death of him, since his hands will do no work.

All day long the godless is racked by desire, the upright gives without ever refusing.

The sacrifice of the wicked is abhorrent, above all if it is offered for bad motives.

The false witness will perish, but no one who knows how to listen will ever be silenced.

The wicked man's strength shows on his face, but the honest it is whose steps are firm.

No wisdom, no understanding, no advice is worth anything before Yahweh.

Fit out the cavalry for the day of battle, but the victory is Yahweh's.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

A few themes recur throughout this passage. The first is justice, "To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice." This command harkens back to the prophet Hosea, "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings" (6:6). Justice is an important theme in the words of many prophets who stand up to defend justice, especially concerning the poor, and they are often unheeded. We just need to look at the first chapters of Amos and Isaiah. Even in this passage we read, "He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard." A cry is not simply an expression of suffering or of need, but it is also a call for justice. As we see in the Psalms, "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry... When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles." (Psalms 34:15,17). Even in the Gospels, many sick people cry out to Jesus for healing. On hearing Jesus pass by, the blind man Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus who heard his voice (Mk 10:46-52). Unlike humanity, the Lord always listens to the voice of the weak and poor. The admonition we read in the Proverbs should help us understand that only those who listen to the call for help of the poor will in turn be heard by the Lord. This is true justice. Whoever does not know how to listen easily becomes violent, "The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, because they refuse to do what is just." As we see in our society, violence and injustice are closely correlated whereas the practice of justice brings joy (v. 15). And, "Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honour" (v. 21). True justice will come about through gratuitous love and not based on calculations or a "quid pro quo" approach. Also connected to the theme of justice is one on the use of riches and possessions. Riches achieved by means of lies and quarrels in the end appear futile and mischievous, "The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapour and a snare of death" (v. 6). Verse 17 adds "He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich." How many times does the craving to have, and the greed of the fool (verse 26 calls it coveting), - and we see it largely in those who give themselves over to gambling, betting, and to the money market- lead to ruin without even realizing it? On the contrary justice knows how to give others of what is ours, "A gift in secret averts anger; and a concealed bribe in the bosom, strong wrath" (v. 14). Indeed what great wisdom we find in the Word of God! A Word that helps live wisely even when one is rich; for the Bible does not despise richness and yet it may become a deadly trap.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 23 October
Memory of the Poor
Tuesday, 24 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 25 October
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 26 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 27 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 28 October
Memory of the Apostles
Sunday, 29 October
Liturgy of the Sunday