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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

James 2, 14-26

How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation?

If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on,

and one of you says to them, 'I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,' without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?

In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead.

But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.

You believe in the one God -- that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear.

Fool! Would you not like to know that faith without deeds is useless?

Was not Abraham our father justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar?

So you can see that his faith was working together with his deeds; his faith became perfect by what he did.

In this way the scripture was fulfilled: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was considered as making him upright; and he received the name 'friend of God'.

You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by believing, that someone is justified.

There is another example of the same kind: Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified by her deeds because she welcomed the messengers and showed them a different way to leave?

As a body without a spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul writes that we are saved by faith, a statement that frees us from the arrogance of exacting salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God. James adds, however, that faith must enliven the disciple’s entire life. These two statements do not propose conflicting views, but rather one explanation. Faith necessarily liberates energies for good; in this sense, faith without works is dead. Besides, Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21). James insists, as he did now, on a Christianity that, starting from faith, becomes action, behaviour, choice of life. Today we are tempted to live a sentimental and individualistic faith that does not measure itself with choices in life as if it were merely a problem of my relationship with God without implying our actions. In fact a faith without life and deeds cannot exist. The apostle gives us a concrete and unmistakable example in order to make us understand his warning. With the example of refusing to help a brother or sister in need, James reveals the insensibility and harshness of a heart unmoved by others. Such behaviour is an evident betrayal of the essential commandment of love. And yet, this is what we usually do, feeling good for our feelings that we live with great emotion and personal involvement: we feel right for the good words we say and not for helping concretely those who ask something from us. It is not enough to believe in the abstract or just to perform specific deeds. Faith, by its nature, is informed by love and therefore is the source of change in both one’s heart and life. Particularly effective is the example of the demons who, although they believe in the existence of God, cannot be called believers. By necessity, faith brings about a new way of acting and new manifestations of love. Abraham is the model of the true believer: with trust he listened to whatever God asked of him and immediately set about to do it to the very end. His faith, initiated by his complete surrender to God’s will, became perfect in his work. And he was justified. The same was true also for Rahab who chose to remain with the people of God though she was a foreigner and a prostitute. James concludes with another image: as the dead body signifies the lack of soul, so the lack of deeds signifies the lack of a living faith. The final judgment, as told in Matthew 25, unequivocally justifies these words by the apostle.

Memory of the Poor

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