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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

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 25,13-27

Some days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid their respects to Festus. Their visit lasted several days, and Festus put Paul's case before the king, saying, 'There is a man here whom Felix left behind in custody, and while I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews laid information against him, demanding his condemnation. But I told them that Romans are not in the habit of surrendering any man, until the accused confronts his accusers and is given an opportunity to defend himself against the charge. So they came here with me, and I wasted no time but took my seat on the tribunal the very next day and had the man brought in. When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive. Not feeling qualified to deal with questions of this sort, I asked him if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on this issue. But Paul put in an appeal for his case to be reserved for the judgement of the emperor, so I ordered him to be remanded until I could send him to Caesar.' Agrippa said to Festus, 'I should like to hear the man myself.' He answered, 'Tomorrow you shall hear him.' So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived in great state and entered the audience chamber attended by the tribunes and the city notables; and Festus ordered Paul to be brought in. Then Festus said, 'King Agrippa, and all here present with us, you see before you the man about whom the whole Jewish community has petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, loudly protesting that he ought not to be allowed to remain alive. For my own part I am satisfied that he has committed no capital crime, but when he himself appealed to the emperor I decided to send him. But I have nothing definite that I can write to his Imperial Majesty about him; that is why I have produced him before you all, and before you in particular, King Agrippa, so that after the examination I may have something to write. It seems to me pointless to send a prisoner without indicating the charges against him.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke writes here, as a sort of intermission, to recount Paul’s encounter with King Agrippa II and his sister Bernice who came to Caesarea to visit Festus, the procurator of Rome. Festus gives a summary to the king of the trial and wisely goes to the root of the problem; Paul affirms that a certain Jesus, whom the Jews believe to be dead, is alive. In truth, this is the crux of the apostle’s preaching as it emerges from his letters; the death and resurrection of Jesus are the pillars of Paul’s Gospel teaching. To believe that Jesus is risen means that he has conquered evil, and its first fruit, that is, death. This is why Jesus is called “Christ,” God’s envoy, and also “Lord.” When we say “our Lord Jesus Christ” we are saying that God sent Jesus of Nazareth, that he made Jesus Lord, that is, the conqueror of death and evil. Such a message is unprecedented; with Jesus’ resurrection, the lives of women and men are no longer closed in by an earthly horizon, but they open up to a new, unthought-of and perhaps unthinkable horizon. His resurrection is the greatest gift that God could have given to humanity. God’s gift is considered so great that on the night of Holy Saturday the Church sings of Adam’s “happy fault” that initially permitted the coming of the Saviour. Paul has faced many difficulties and dangers and has even suffered through a long trial in order to communicate this hope. He is among the first disciples who gave their lives to witness to the Lord’s resurrection. Throughout the centuries many others have followed this very same path. In the last century, in the gulags and in the concentration camps, millions of Christians paid the price of life for the very same faith. Perhaps for the sake of their blood, today we can look to our future with greater hope, because a love so great that it willingly gives up its life for us is indeed a sacred energy that continues to sustain us.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 10 December
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 11 December
Memory of the Poor
Tuesday, 12 December
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 13 December
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 14 December
Memory of the Church
Friday, 15 December
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 16 December
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 17 December
Liturgy of the Sunday