Prayers of the people: The harshness of love

20 January 2022

In this week’s intercessionary prayers for parishes, we pray for prophets of peace and justice. Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C, 30 January 2022


The risk of Paul’s inspired ode to love being sentimentalised is offset today by its placement between two tough texts.

To confront the powers-that-be of his time, Jeremiah is called to become a ‘pillar of iron and a wall of bronze’ Jesus’ declaration of his mission manifesto provokes murderous rage from his home-town neighbours.

Prophets stir up opposition. Paul himself was no soft-headed romantic. The words of his ecstatic hymn were forged in the furnace of mission hardship.

The Russian novelist Dostoyevsky famously put it this way: ‘Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.’ No wonder that one of the first accounts of Dorothy Day’s passionate life was entitled A Harsh and Dreadful Love.


We pray for prophets of peace and justice, that their words will dismantle tyranny and build the foundations of a new world.


These intercessions are offered for selected use at Sunday Mass in the parish alongside those that express local needs and concerns.


Dear friends, welcome or unwelcome, Jesus announced the good news of God’s reign. Let us be steadfast in our prayer for a new heaven and a new earth.


We pray for Pope Francis, that his prophetic calls for church renewal, for human solidarity and for care of the earth will be heard and heeded. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for all the baptised, that their faith will be strong, their hope lively, and their love all-embracing. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for the people of Tonga, that timely aid and their strong community spirit will help them recover quickly from the devastation of the volcanic eruption. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for world faith leaders, that Interfaith Harmony Week (1-7 February) will encourage them to work together for the well-being of the world. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for the many who celebrate Chinese New Year this week (31 January-6 February), that they will travel safely and renew family ties, friendships and hopes for the future. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for all workers in essential services, that their health and safety not be jeopardised by the demands of the pandemic. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for all dwellers on earth, that World Wetlands Day (2 February) will highlight the importance of wetland ecosystems for the health of the planet. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for parents, teachers and children, that the start of the school year will be safe, peaceful and full of promise. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.

We pray for the recently deceased . . . and for those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time, that they will see God face to face and live in love forever. (Pause) Let us pray to the Lord.


All-loving God, you never cease to raise up heralds of hope among us. Give us the courage to welcome your word and live by it. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Image: Autumn flowers in a city park in northern Israel –