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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 15, 1-10

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to him,

and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'

So he told them this parable:

'Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it?

And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders

and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost."

In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.

'Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it?

And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost."

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

A large crowd was following Jesus. For the most part, they were made up of the sick, the crushed and abandoned, of “tax collectors and sinners,” as the evangelist Luke noted with some complacency. All flocked in search of protection, healing, comfort. Obviously, this did not go undetected by the religious leaders of Israel; it created many suspicions and especially much perplexity, if not a real scandal. This became even more evident whenever Jesus sat at table with sinners and tax collectors. The meal together signified communion, intimacy, close relationships, and openly contradicted what the Pharisees preached and practiced - that is, a religiosity marked by an exterior ritual that must have even kept believers physically far from those considered impure and sinful. The distance between the religious thought of the Pharisees and that of Jesus was abyssal. In fact, for Jesus, familiarity with tax collectors and sinners was not a casual choice; on the contrary, it was the fruit of a precise choice. It was really a part of his mission and, if one may say so, similar to the behaviour of his heavenly Father. In as much as Jesus, responding to the accusations levelled at him by the Pharisees, speaks not of himself but of God, he describes God’s behaviour. As many as 32 verses of Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, beginning with this section, speak of the merciful attitude of God. These first ten verses narrate two parables about mercy: the lost sheep and the lost coin. In the first, Jesus presents the Father as a shepherd who lost one of his ninety-nine sheep. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine in the fold and starts to search for the lost one. It could be said that there is a law of mercy that gives the sinner a right: the right to be helped before those who are just. This is the revolution of the Gospel. In a world where merit is the ideal of social organization – and there’s no doubt that this must be considered - the Gospel presents the paradox of the mystery of mercy and pardon. In the second parable, the Father is imagined as a woman who has lost a coin and starts looking for it until she finds it, thus asserting once again God’s privileged love for little ones. And both, the shepherd and the woman, after having found the lost sheep and the coin, call their neighbours to celebrate. God wants not the death of sinners, but their conversion - that is, that they change their lives and turn to Him. This demands from disciples a merciful heart and a capacity to love as God does. Jesus concludes, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” This is the feast God enjoys most, and for this reason, he starts searching - even begging - for love. He does this even with us: let us allow Him to find us.

Memory of the Church

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