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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memorial of Saint Athanasius (†373), Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 6,30-35

So they said, 'What sign will you yourself do, the sight of which will make us believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' Jesus answered them: In all truth I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. 'Sir,' they said, 'give us that bread always.' Jesus answered them: I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

At the end of the previous Gospel passage we read the people’s question to Jesus: “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Indeed Jesus had reproached them for seeking to fulfil only their own satisfaction. Jesus responded to their request: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Jesus is not asking that they do many things, as the Pharisees were prescribing, but one thing only: believe in the one sent by God. But the people asked him again: “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?” In light of the recent miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, such a request seems unjustified and specious. In truth, people wanted another even more extraordinary sign to confirm that he is indeed sent by God. Perhaps they wanted Jesus to solve the problem of food, not just for the five thousand who had just benefited from the miracle, but for the entire people of Israel as had happened at the time of the manna. The memory of the manna had remained very much alive in Israel’s tradition and is often remembered in the books of the Old Testament. At the coming of the Messiah the people expected a repetition of this miracle. Jesus responds, however, that it was not Moses who gave them the bread from heaven, but “it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” By saying “true bread,” Jesus interprets manna as a sign of the new bread. This new bread, “the bread of God” that comes from heaven, is Jesus himself. But his listeners still have not understood the depth of Jesus’ words; the starting point of their understanding is themselves, their needs and instincts. They do not understand what Jesus truly wants to say. This happens to us when we do not enter deeply into the words of the Gospel because we would rather listen to them from our viewpoint rather than from what they really want to tell us. A “spiritual” reading of the Bible is done within a prayerful state. Sacred Scripture must be listened to with a heart open to being touched by the Lord. Without prayer we risk having our egos get in the way, seeking ourselves and not the Lord. The disciples’ request is correct: “Sir, give us this bread always.” But in reality it sounds false, just as that of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well. The disciples’ incomprehension leads Jesus to affirm clearly and solemnly: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” We could say that Jesus employs every figure of speech just to tell us of his immense love for us. He is the true bread, the true life, the truth, the light, the gate, the good shepherd, the vine, the living water…he is the resurrection.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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