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The Everyday Prayer

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

Remembrance of Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see the Lord and received as a gift the conversion of his heart.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 5,17-33

Then the high priest intervened with all his supporters from the party of the Sadducees. Filled with jealousy, they arrested the apostles and had them put in the public gaol. But at night the angel of the Lord opened the prison gates and said as he led them out, 'Go and take up position in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new Life.' They did as they were told; they went into the Temple at dawn and began to preach. When the high priest arrived, he and his supporters convened the Sanhedrin -- this was the full Senate of Israel -- and sent to the gaol for them to be brought. But when the officials arrived at the prison they found they were not inside, so they went back and reported, 'We found the gaol securely locked and the warders on duty at the gates, but when we unlocked the door we found no one inside.' When the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard this news they wondered what could be happening. Then a man arrived with fresh news. 'Look!' he said, 'the men you imprisoned are in the Temple. They are standing there preaching to the people.' The captain went with his men and fetched them -- though not by force, for they were afraid that the people might stone them. When they had brought them in to face the Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded an explanation. 'We gave you a strong warning', he said, 'not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt for this man's death on us.' In reply Peter and the apostles said, 'Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, whom you executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.' This so infuriated them that they wanted to put them to death.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The high priest and the Sadducees, jealous of the apostles’ success, order their arrest. The text says that they are “full of envy.” We all know what kind of damage jealousy can cause and that it is the most diabolical of evil sentiments. In the book of Wisdom it is written that death entered the world through the jealousy of the devil. And because of jealousy, the apostles were put in prison. The preaching of the world of God was working real miracles, and the Christian community was growing in numbers and authority. Its actions countered the work of evil, which instead works to destroy the ability of humans to live together. And this is why the violence of evil struck the Christian community, just as it had struck Jesus. But the Lord does not abandon his disciples, and in the night an angel miraculously frees them from prison and orders them to go to the temple again to preach to the people. We could say that from that moment on it was impossible to keep the Word of God in chains. All the various Herods who in turn try to silence the Gospel will be defeated by the power of Jesus, which has defeated evil once and for all. Opposition to the Gospel and to those who listen to it and follow is a constant in the life of the Christian community. In recent years there has been no lack of those who continue the violent work of the prince of this world to silence the Gospel. Over the course of the last century millions of believers were struck by the fury of totalitarian regimes committed to shutting up the Gospel by imprisoning or killing its witnesses. But sooner or later the Gospel breaks every chain. It does not eliminate the jailors, of course; if anything, a prayer for them rises from the prisons, that they might convert to love. This is the mystery of evil, which continues to work, but which will not be able to prevail over the disciples of Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39). The chief priests, blinded by envy, put the apostles in prison again, but again Peter and John repeat that they must obey God before human beings.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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