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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

Acts 8,26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, 'Set out at noon and go along the road that leads from Jerusalem down to Gaza, the desert road.' So he set off on his journey. Now an Ethiopian had been on pilgrimage to Jerusalem; he was a eunuch and an officer at the court of the kandake, or queen, of Ethiopia; he was her chief treasurer. He was now on his way home; and as he sat in his chariot he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, 'Go up and join that chariot.' When Philip ran up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' He replied, 'How could I, unless I have someone to guide me?' So he urged Philip to get in and sit by his side. Now the passage of scripture he was reading was this: Like a lamb led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep dumb in front of its shearers, he never opens his mouth. In his humiliation fair judgement was denied him. Who will ever talk about his descendants, since his life on earth has been cut short? The eunuch addressed Philip and said, 'Tell me, is the prophet referring to himself or someone else?' Starting, therefore, with this text of scripture Philip proceeded to explain the good news of Jesus to him. Further along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'Look,is some water; is there anything to prevent my being baptised?' He ordered the chariot to stop, then Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water and he baptised him. But after they had come up out of the water again Philip was taken away by the Spirit of the Lord, and the eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip appeared in Azotus and continued his journey, proclaiming the good news in every town as far as Caesarea.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

On the Gaza road, heading south, in a land inhabited today by Palestinians, there is a pilgrim who is returning from Jerusalem to Ethiopia. This man, a trusted adviser of the Candace, the queen of Ethiopia, is seated in his chariot reading Isaiah. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Philip, whom we already encountered in yesterday’s reading, approaches him and asks him if he understands what he is reading. The Ethiopian answers with sincerity: "How can I, unless someone guides me?" It is an answer we should be attention to, because it shows the normal way to find faith. No one can give faith to him or herself, and no one can understand Holy Scripture without the help of the community, without sitting, as Saint Augustine said, on the lap of the holy mother Church. Eager to understand what he was reading, the Ethiopian invites Philip to sit beside him in order to "open" his mind and help him understand the text. Something similar happened to the two disciples from Emmaus. As they returned to their village with downcast hearts, they too needed the help of a stranger to understand Scripture. We all need someone to sit next to us and help us understand the Gospel. Yes, each one of us needs to let someone into the chariot of our life to accompany us and help us understand the Scripture, that is, help us understand how the Word of God can be applied in our daily lives. None of us is self-sufficient in faith. The Ethiopian accepted Philip’s help and listened to him on his journey. At a certain point, the Ethiopian stopped the chariot and asked to be baptized. He had understood the passage he was reading, but not in an abstract way. He had a profound understanding of it: he realized that the prophet was speaking to him, too. That is why he wanted to be "baptized": he wanted what was written to come true for him, too. If we learn how to stop the chariot of our lives and let ourselves be taught how to "enter" into the pages of the Gospel, we too will find the strength to continue our journey with greater vigour and clarity. That is why we have to let ourselves be guided by the Word of God every day.

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