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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

Psalm 118, 1.8-9.19-21.25-27

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
  his steadfast love endures for ever!

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
  than to put confidence in mortals.

9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
  than to put confidence in princes.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
  that I may enter through them
  and give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;
  the righteous shall enter through it.

21 I thank you that you have answered me
  and have become my salvation.

25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
  O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
  We bless you from the house of the Lord.

27 The Lord is God,
  and he has given us light.
  Bind the festal procession with branches,
  up to the horns of the altar.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving to God on behalf of Israel for having been liberated from its enemies. Jewish worship incorporates this psalm into the autumn festival of Booths, which commemorates Israel’s wandering in the desert. The psalm opens with a litany of invitations to praise the Lord: “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever” (v. 1-4). Once again the psalm invites us to sing of God’s mercy. Israel’s God seems not to be able to be without us, without bending down to us, without seeking us out, without defending us from our enemies and rescuing us from defeat. The psalmist underlines that not only is this mercy free, but also “eternal.” Though we easily betray the Lord and our lives are so weak, the psalm invites us to contemplate and rejoice for the eternal mercy of God: “God’s steadfast love endures forever.” The psalmist recounts his experience: out of distress he cried out to the Lord and the Lord rescued him (v. 5); warring nations surrounded him like bees and flared up like a fire of thorns, but he defeated all of them in the name of the Lord (v. 10-12); the Lord tested him severely, but he did not hand him over to death (v. 18). Numerous times he interrupts himself to proclaim his faith in the Lord: “The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation” (v. 14). Again, he sings, “With the Lord at my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?” (v. 6). He also very wisely asserts, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in mortals; it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (v. 8-9). We find genuine safety only in the Lord whose love endures forever. However, in our dullness we all too frequently fail to recognize the Lord’s love; we even disregard it and push it away. However, God does not fail to send us signs of His love. Rather than recognize these signs, we distance ourselves from and chase them away because we have little faith and are blinded by our pride. The psalmist warns us, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (v. 22). Jesus took up this metaphor and applied it to himself, and still today unfortunately he is rejected and thrust aside. And yet, he remains the cornerstone chosen by God to build a new people capable of loving. Singularly, this psalm closes with a series of acclamations that were taken up by the Gospel to describe Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” (v. 26). The cornerstone had been accepted for the edification of the New Jerusalem, about which Saint Ephraim sings, “Blessed are your gates thrown open, your wide open atriums, so that all of us may find a place. On your streets all of the nations sing. The Gentiles, the people with hard hearts and hearts of stone, praise and hail the Stone rejected by the builders, but which has become the chief cornerstone. Moved by the Stone, all of the stones cry out.”

Memory of the Church

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 14 January
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 15 January
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 16 January
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 17 January
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 18 January
Memory of the Church
Friday, 19 January
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 20 January
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 21 January
Liturgy of the Sunday