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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

Ecclesiastes 3,1-11

There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven: A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing. A time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for discarding. A time for tearing, a time for sewing; a time for keeping silent, a time for speaking. A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace. What do people gain from the efforts they make? I contemplate the task that God gives humanity to labour at. All that he does is apt for its time; but although he has given us an awareness of the passage of time, we can grasp neither the beginning nor the end of what God does.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Having abandoned the disguise of the pseudo-Solomon, the author proposes a long meditation on time. The fact that everything has "its time" is often underlined in the wisdom literature of the Bible: a tree bears fruit "in its season" (Ps 1:3), a shock of grain comes to the threshing floor "in its season" (Job 5:26), the birds know "their time" (Jer 8:7), and even a word can be "in season" (Prov 15:23). Therefore, being aware of the "season" is a sign of wisdom. By arranging the passage in seven pairs of polar-opposites, the Teacher is trying to encompass the entirety of human life with its different "seasons" and "times." A human being’s entire life, from birth to death, is marked by a dialectic of opposites, which the authors proposes as a long litany of times that weave through all of existence. But human beings do not weave their own lives. We are not the ones who choose to be born or die (v. 2), nor can we eliminate the "poles" that mark our lives. There is an order to everything, "for everything there is a season" (v.1). The list presented by the author is meant to eliminate the idea of disorder. But it is not given to human beings to understand its meaning and even less to direct it. The text emphasizes the poverty of human knowledge. Existence is made up of different kinds of "doing", but it lacks meaning. People work to get results, to reach goals, and to construct the "world," but they are not its masters. Why should we tire ourselves out trying to obtain things when we cannot enjoy them? The Teacher dismisses the idea that God could have made a mistake and recalls that "He has made everything suitable for its time." Consequently it is "suitable" to be born and it is "suitable" to die; it is "suitable" to love and even to hate, and so on. The whole of creation has its own inner harmony. Ben Sira, [the author of the Book of Sirach] writes: "‘All the works of the Lord are very good, and whatever he commands will be done at the appointed time...No one can say, "What is this?" or "Why is that?" for everything has been created for its own purpose...No one can say, ‘This is not as good as that’, for everything proves good in its appointed time (39:16, 21, 34). Experience tells us that life is very hard to live (v. 10) and to understand: human beings cannot "find out what God has done from the beginning to the end" (v. 11). But God has placed "a sense of past and future into their minds." It is true that human beings cannot understand the meaning of the "seasons" that come one after the other, but they can grasp eternity, the "season" of God. It is through an awareness of their limits that human beings open up to the mystery of God, whose notice nothing can escape. Everything has a meaning. Even if human beings cannot understand the entire passage of time from the "beginning to the end." An awareness of our own radical limitations pushes us to entrust ourselves in the Lord. This is the meaning of the "fear of God" that the Teacher proposes for human understanding. On this path of "awe" before God, we discover that everything has been given to us, even if we do not understand the deeper meaning of this gift, which is life, we can still enjoy it, because we know it all comes from God.

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