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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memorial of St. Sergii Radonezhsky of the Russian church. He founded the Lavra (monastery) of the Most Holy Trinity near Moscow. Memorial of the evangelical pastor Paul Schneider who died in the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald on July 18, 1939

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 12, 1-8

At that time Jesus went through the cornfields one Sabbath day. His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them.

The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, 'Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath.'

But he said to them, 'Have you not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry-

how he went into the house of God and they ate the loaves of the offering although neither he nor his followers were permitted to eat them, but only the priests?

Or again, have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbath day the Temple priests break the Sabbath without committing any fault?

Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple.

And if you had understood the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless.

For the Son of man is master of the Sabbath.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Pharisees never lose any opportunity to think ill of Jesus, and his disciples, and to blame them. The behaviour of the Pharisees resembles that of those who are afraid of evil but search for it in others rather than in themselves. The Pharisees consider that they save themselves by blaming others. They notice the speck in the eye of another but are unable to remove the beam in their own eyes. They judge, but don’t love; they watch, but don’t help. In fact, they remain indifferent to the request of the suffering for forgiveness and healing. They reproach Jesus because he allows his disciples to pick some heads of grain on their way, on the Sabbath. The Teacher replies with two examples that show the meanness and blindness of their hearts. Moreover, he reaffirms, through Hosea’s words, the breadth of God’s heart: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ (Hosea 9:13). The Lord does not desire cold and exterior compliance with rules; instead He desires the believer’s heart. This is not lack of respect for the law. Compassion, however, is above rules. Compassion is a gift to be asked from God, since it isn’t a matter of character or skills, it comes from God. Actually, that dimension has always been present in biblical revelation. In some Jewish commentaries, for example, you can read: “The Sabbath was given to you, rather than you to the Sabbath.” According to some commentators, rabbis were aware that an exaggerated zeal could endanger the fulfilment of the essence of the Law: “Nothing is more important, according to the Torah, than to save human lives…even when the chance of loosing a life is tiny, any prohibition of the Law can be disregarded.” Jesus emphasizes the spirit of the Law, according to which God and Man are at the core of the Law. Therefore, he interprets it authentically. The Sabbath shows the loving presence of God in human life. The Lord Jesus is the loving face of God; therefore he repeats that he desires mercy, not sacrifice. Why do we often prefer sacrifices to mercy, as do the Pharisees? Because we believe we have a clear conscience, while mercy is always in debt to others. Jesus does not break the law; rather he fulfils it through love. God does not give a regulation but a word of love to make human life full. If we deprive the Law of love, and reduce it to sacrifices, we acquire a rule leading to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Instead, God cares about our hearts and is merciful.

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