Prayer for peace

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The prayer for peace is held in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.


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

Matthew 12,38-42

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees spoke up. 'Master,' they said, 'we should like to see a sign from you.' He replied, 'It is an evil and unfaithful generation that asks for a sign! The only sign it will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. On Judgement Day the men of Nineveh will appear against this generation and they will be its condemnation, because when Jonah preached they repented; and look, there is something greater than Jonah here. On Judgement Day the Queen of the South will appear against this generation and be its condemnation, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look, there is something greater than Solomon here.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

How often, like the Scribes and Pharisees, we too seek a sign to be sure and safe! This appears to be a reasonable and licit request. In fact if we look at it attentively, such a request is full of ambiguity and reveals quite some diffidence. The reason is that we do not want to run any risk. Jesus responds that he cannot give any sign except the sign of Jonah, which Jesus interprets and connects to the mystery of his death and Resurrection. Just as Jonas was kept in the belly of the fish three days, and was then spewed out and sent to Nineveh to preach, so the Son of man would stay three days in the earth and then be raised by his Father to be the Saviour of all. This Gospel passage explains why Jonas coming out of the fish is often portrayed on the gravestones of the catacombs. Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the sign given by God to humankind. This sign is infinitely greater than the sign of Jonas given to Nineveh. Yet, for us, it is difficult to believe in Jesus, to convert to him, and to entrust ourselves to his Word. The Queen of the South made a long journey to hear the Wisdom of Solomon. Yet, we find it difficult even to open the book of the Gospel and read it. The Gospel is the sign of God today. This small book is entrusted by God to believers so that we listen to it, put it into practice and preach it everywhere in the world. The Gospel that occupies an important part in the Holy Liturgy on Sunday must find an important place also in daily life. All ages should nourish with it. This is maybe the most urgent task of the Church in this time.