Prayer for peace

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The prayer for peace is held in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Feast of the Black Christ of Esquipulas in Guatemala, venerated throughout all of Central America.


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

Mark 2,18-22

John's disciples and the Pharisees were keeping a fast, when some people came to him and said to him, 'Why is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not?' Jesus replied, 'Surely the bridegroom's attendants cannot fast while the bridegroom is still with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the time will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then, on that day, they will fast. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. And nobody puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins too. No! New wine into fresh skins!'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist speaks of the disciples of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees who, as it always happens to those who consider themselves righteous, felt entitled to turn to Jesus to ask him the reason why his disciples were not observing the fast that, although not mandatory, elevated the spirit. Their criticism, in truth, is directed more to the teacher than the disciples. In parabolic language, Jesus answers that it is not the external practices that make the heart pure and the life of people clean. The pure are those who welcome the Messiah as one welcomes the bridegroom. Jesus obviously intended for them to understand that he was the bridegroom who was coming. And when the groom's friends wait for him to celebrate they cannot fast. Fasting would be seen as inappropriate by the groom, who expects to be welcomed with a celebration, and certainly not by penitential fasting. However, he warns that even the friends of the bridegroom will go through difficult times, especially when the bridegroom will be taken away from them. In this manner, Jesus foretells, albeit covertly, his passion and his death. It is then that the moments of fasting, or rather of suffering, will come; and so indeed it has happened from then to the present day with the long line of disciples who have been persecuted because of their faith and resisted to the point of shedding their blood. With two images, Jesus makes it clear that the spirit of discipleship does not accord with the formal rigidity of religious and ascetic practices that do not change the heart. The old clothes and old wineskins indicate an external piety that does not change the heart or the behaviours. It is the Gospel that makes us new, not the external practices. How many mistakes we make when we entrust our lives to exteriority! The Gospel is the new wine that makes new hearts to receive it. The heart full of itself and of its works is an old wineskin incapable of grasping the newness of the Gospel, and the new cloth is the new mantle that is woven with the fabric of love, which has nothing to do with the old and tattered piece of cloth of one's egocentrism. The disciples understood that salvation is not in boasting about one's own works, even good ones such as fasting, but in loving Jesus above all else, as the bride loves her husband.