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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 9, 9-13

As Jesus was walking on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him.

Now while he was at table in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?'

When he heard this he replied, 'It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick.

Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Walking, Jesus sees Matthew, a tax collector in charge of collecting the taxes that were going to fatten the coffers of the Tetrarch, the governor of the region, and of the hated Romans. Matthew is the author of the Gospel we have just heard. As a tax-collector, Matthew is one of the publicans who were considered cheaters and exploiters of the people and the law. Moreover, they were considered unclean, because they handled money and made shady money business. In short, they were people to be avoided. Together with the excommunicated, thieves and usurers, publicans should not even be greeted. Jesus, however, comes close to and starts talking with him. At the end of the conversation, Jesus even offers Matthew an invitation: “Follow me.” A tax-collector is called to be part of the disciples. What a difference from the attitude of not getting close and not shaking hands! Matthew, unlike many people who considered themselves religious and pure, immediately gets up from his desk and begins to follow Jesus. From a sinner that he was, he becomes an example of how to follow the Lord. Indeed, with the Gospel that bears his name he has become a guide to many. We also follow this old publican and sinner who leads us to the knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus. Matthew immediately invites Jesus to a banquet. All of his friends come too. It is a strange banquet: composed, in fact, of publicans and sinners. But Jesus is not ashamed of being with them. Some of the Pharisees are scandalized by this scene and say to Jesus’ disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” Hearing the objection, Jesus responds directly to the controversy with a proverb irrefutable for its clarity: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus does not mean that the Pharisees are healthy and others are sick. For him, in fact, there is never a Manichean division between good people and bad people, between the righteous and sinners. Jesus just wants to explain his mission: he has come to help and to heal, to liberate and save. In order to follow and welcome Jesus and his Gospel we need to realize we have a wound, to feel needy, to open up our heart with a question and a search in the same way a sick person does. For this, speaking directly to the Pharisees, Jesus adds, “Go and learn what this means: mercy I desire not sacrifice.” Jesus encourages everyone to imitate him: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29). And even closer to each of us, he adds, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” This is why it is it is not hard to feel the Lord at our side. We need just to admit that before him we are in need and we are not so healthy as unfortunately often we pretend to be.

Memory of Jesus crucified

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