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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

1 Kings 19,9.11-16

There he went into a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of Yahweh came to him saying, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' Then he was told, 'Go out and stand on the mountain before Yahweh.' For at that moment Yahweh was going by. A mighty hurricane split the mountains and shattered the rocks before Yahweh. But Yahweh was not in the hurricane. And after the hurricane, an earthquake. But Yahweh was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, fire. But Yahweh was not in the fire. And after the fire, a light murmuring sound. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then a voice came to him, which said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He replied, 'I am full of jealous zeal for Yahweh, God Sabaoth, because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant, have torn down your altars and put your prophets to the sword. I am the only one left and now they want to kill me.' 'Go,' Yahweh said, 'go back by the same way to the desert of Damascus. You must go and anoint Hazael as king of Aram. You must anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel-Meholah, as prophet to succeed you.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Elijah ascends Horeb and enters a cave to spend the night. This is as if to signify the necessity of entering into oneself again, into the depth of one’s heart, into that interior room where it is possible to encounter the Lord. And while he is there he does indeed hear the very voice of the Lord. It is not the angel, but God himself who asks him, "What are you doing here Elijah?" It is a clear and direct question, like the one posed to Adam after the sin, or to Cain after he killed his brother. Elijah feels questioned by the Lord and responds in a direct way describing what happened to him because of his zeal for the Lord. The text says: "I have been very zealous for the Lord!" Who of us could respond with such immediacy and sincerity? The reason for his being in danger is, in fact, his zeal for the Lord. But the Lord does not to respond to Elijah who is still embittered for how he was treated. Elijah remains alone with his silence. Elijah is still a prisoner of himself and his history, of his--perhaps--heroic exploits, but exploits always centred on oneself. It is true that he is full of passion for the Lord but he has run away from his people. It is not possible to be jealous for God if one is not jealous for His people; it is not possible to love God without loving His people too. The Lord cannot be separated from his people. For this reason we cannot be saved alone, but only in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. God pursues the prophet and asks him to come down from the mountain. And then "there was a great wind...so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but God was not in the wind." But Elijah did not come out; he remained in the cave, closed in his personal dimension. Perhaps he was waiting for what happened to Moses on Horeb to happen to him. In Exodus it is written: "There was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain...Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke... the whole mountain shook violently" (Ex 19: 16-18). And this happened because "the Lord descended in the middle of the fire." And we too, certainly not because close to Elijah’s time, are still tied to an old language; we think that God is present in storms and natural calamities. The Lord is not in earthquakes or in storms; and he certainly is not in the wars and conflicts that destroy the lives of millions of people. God does not live in these earthquakes that shake the earth, in these fires that devour people as in hell. But there comes a light wind that caresses Elijah. Immediately the prophet covers his face with his coat and leaves the cave. The soft wind, this breath of the Spirit, the breath of love dismantled the armour of his defences, and opened wide the heart of the prophet to the horizons of the world. The light wind is the weak strength of love. It is with love, this weak force, that we rebuild the torn fabric of the children of God. The Lord is in the soft wind, the Lord is in love. Responding to the repeated question, the prophet repeats the same words. But at this point it is God himself who orders him to take up the journey. Elijah must fulfil his mission in order to not leave the people of God without the light of God’s word. Certainly, he has to uproot that which destroys, but he must choose Elisha so that he can continue his mission.

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