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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 12, 38-42

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. 'Master,' they said, 'we should like to see a sign from you.'

He replied, 'It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah.

For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and look, there is something greater than Jonah here.

On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look, there is something greater than Solomon here.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

How often, like the Scribes and Pharisees, we too seek a sign to be sure and safe! This appears to be a reasonable and licit request. Even Philip asked, “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Indeed, to have plain evidence and clear signs appears to be normal in order to believe and choose. However, in this case it would not be trust, but rather practicality. This request is full of ambiguity and shows mistrust. We do not consider Jesus’ testimony of his deeds and words is enough. We seek clear evidence that exempts us from the labour of a choice, of a decision. Actually, the Lord performs a lot of miracles for us, as well as for the people in the Gospel. We can see his presence in those miracles, not to be convinced of it, but rather to realize his and our power of love. Jesus himself cannot give any sign except for the sign of Jonah, that is, the mystery of his death and Resurrection. In fact just as Jonas was kept in the belly of the fish three days, and was then spewed out and sent to Nineveh to preach, so the Son of man would stay three days in the earth and then be raised by his Father to be the Saviour. This explains why Jonas has often been portrayed on the gravestones of the catacombs. Jesus is the sign given by God to humankind. This sign is infinitely greater than the sign of Jonas given to Nineveh. We consider the choice offered by Jesus too difficult. Truly, our mistrust and fear make it impossible for us to believe as the people of Nineveh and the Queen of the South did. They were pushed by the awareness of their sin, by their trust and love. Yet, for us, it is difficult to believe in Jesus, to be converted, and to entrust ourselves to his Word. The Queen of the South made a long journey to hear the Wisdom of Solomon. Yet, we find it difficult even to open the book of the Gospel and read it. Instead of extraordinary, amazing, esoteric signs, today we need a powerful and clear proclamation of the Gospel, with a widespread revelation of mercy, especially towards the weakest. These are the signs that Jesus performed and entrusted to his disciples then and now. This Gospel passage questions every disciple and every Christian community as to whether they really are a sign of love and mercy. This is the task that Jesus still entrusts to the Church: to be salt and light of the world. Those who believe recognize the sign of Jonah, like the people of Nineveh, the tax collectors and sinners, those who seek and find, those who knock and the door will be opened. This sign is the only one that shows us never ending life.

Prayer for peace

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 19 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 20 November
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 21 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 22 November
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 23 November
Memory of the Church
Friday, 24 November
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 25 November
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 26 November
Liturgy of the Sunday