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The Everyday Prayer

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

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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

Luke 15,3-7

So he told them this parable: 'Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost." In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Although a recent liturgical celebration, this feast is rooted in the very heart of Christianity. Introducing us to the profound meaning of this celebration, the preface of the Liturgy invites us to contemplate the mystery of the love of Jesus: “From the cross, in his limitless love, he gave us life, and from the wounds of his side he poured forth blood and water, symbol of the sacraments of the Church, so that all of us, drawn to the heart of the Saviour, would be able to joyfully draw from the eternal spring of salvation.” The liturgy sings of Jesus’ heart as the wellspring of salvation. Yes, that heart of flesh that did not spare anything, that gave all of itself until the final drop of blood in order to pull us out of the slavery of evil, that heart - Jesus’ heart - continues to gush forth love, uninterrupted through the centuries. This liturgical remembrance is an invitation for us all to turn our attention to the mystery of this heart, a heart of flesh and not of stone, as our hearts often become. Jesus’ public ministry began with the compassion of that heart.
Matthew (9:36) writes that as Jesus travelled through the cities and villages of Galilee, he was moved by the crowds that flocked to him, as they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. And he began gathering them together and healing them. In Jesus, the good pastor about whom the prophet Ezekiel spoke, finally had come: “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered… I will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land” (34:11-13).
In the passage which was just read to us, the evangelist Luke follows on the words of the prophet, showing us how far the love of this good shepherd has reached, a shepherd who loves his sheep to the point of being willing to give his very life for them. And he loves them one by one, not as a group. In fact he knows each one by voice and by name. He knows their stories and their needs. And he has put all of his affection and hope in each one. In a mass society like ours, where it is easy to be forgotten and disappear into anonymity, it really is good news to know that the Lord knows each of us by name and never forgets us. If anything, we are the ones who distance ourselves and flee from the Lord’s love, and who run the risk of getting lost in the sad and twisted paths of this world. And yet, this good shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep in the fold to come and look for us. Prefiguring the good shepherd, the prophet Ezekiel writes, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy” (34:16). Jesus does not abandon any of his sheep to their own fate. He always gathers them together and looks after them. And not once, but many times, he has had to leave the other ninety-nine sheep to run after us, pick us up, put us on his shoulders and bring us back into the fold.
Jesus’ heart and his love for us know no limits, to the point of being absolutely incomprehensible to human logic. The apostle Paul expresses beautifully the boundlessness of Jesus’ love: “Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a righteous person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8). This is the heart that the liturgy reveals to us, the heart of Jesus that does not cease beating for us and for all of humanity. We could say that he not only carries us on his shoulders, but he even pours his love into our hearts or, even, he gives us his own heart, as the apostle Paul writes, “God’s love has been poured into hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:5).

Memory of Jesus crucified

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