Prayer rite: The invitation of May Day


21 Apr 2020

Hymns, readings, reflection and prayers of petition for 1 May.

Hymns: Come to Set Us Free, Bernadette Farrell; A New Heart for a New World, Trisha Watts/Monica O’Brien; God of Day and God of Darkness, Marty Haugen; The Cry of the Poor, John Foley

Readings: Acts 2:42-47. The Lord is my shepherd – Psalm 23. Luke 4:14-21.


This May Day (May 1), we stand with and pray for those on the edge of our economy: people working multiple jobs, workers on insecure contracts, those subsisting on ‘Newstart’, drivers for rideshare and food delivery apps, and stressed parents making difficult decisions about how to survive on their pay. We are aware of the increasing casualisation of the Australian workforce, where power resides more and more in the hands of employers.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus announces his mission ‘to bring good news to the poor’ (Luke 4:14-21). Later, Jesus gives us the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). This story acts to challenge the consciences of those who have much, and to inspire an awareness of what is expected. Jesus calls the rich to bring relief and dignity to the poor.

This is an invitation to reconciliation, where those elevated by money and position are called to exercise ‘downward mobility’ in order to return to a more human plane. Letting go of our desire for honour and prestige prepares us to act in solidarity with people who live in insecure lodgings and who work on the edges.

We spend so much time on smart phones that we can be too distracted to recognise the people the biblical writers would call oppressed. Today, Jesus invites us to see the faces of those oppressed by today’s increasingly unaccommodating economy. Hidden within the statistics live one million-plus people with limited agency who subsist in situations of unemployment and underemployment. We need to ask God for what Dorothy Day called ‘a revolution of the heart’ and so demand dignity for all, especially those living in extreme poverty and powerlessness.

Prayers of petition:

Creator God, you lavish the world with gifts. Inspire a new world where our personal and communal relationships build peace and justice for all. Lord, hear us.

Father of the human family, you desire the good of all. Move us to see the faces of those hidden by employment figures, migrant worker schemes, and rideshare or food delivery apps. Labour with us to build a society attentive to the rights and needs of every person. Lord, hear us.

Christ our brother, you bring good news to the poor. We pray for all casually contracted workers, the underemployed, and those working multiple jobs. Move our citizens, politicians, regulators, unions and employers to act to ensure all workers receive a living wage. Lord, hear us.

Jesus, friend of the poor, you notice people pushed to the margins. Give us the means to act in solidarity with those experiencing unemployment. Animate the consciences of decision makers within governments and organisations which can bring hope to people subsisting on ‘Newstart’. Lord, hear us.

Spirit of life, you encourage us personally and communally. Attend to those caring for clients, patients and loved ones in great need. Wake within us a desire to build a just society attentive to the needs of families and communities living in poverty. Lord, hear us.

Spirit of freedom, you sound music within our hearts, enlarging our minds and confirming us in our work for your kingdom. Allow us to listen and act in response to your desires for all people. Lord, hear us.

Image: Bicycle couriers – Getty Images

James O'Brien is an Editorial Assistant with Jesuit Communications.
Email this Print This Page