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The Everyday Prayer


 
printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Nehemiah 8,1-12

all the people gathered as one man in the square in front of the Water Gate, and asked the scribe Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses which Yahweh had prescribed for Israel.

Accordingly, on the first day of the seventh month, the priest Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women and all those old enough to understand.

In the square in front of the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and of those old enough to understand, he read from the book from dawn till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose; beside him stood, on his right, Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; on his left, Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

In full view of all the people -- since he stood higher than them all -- Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.

Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, 'Amen! Amen!'; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before Yahweh.

And Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabab, Hanan, Pelaiah, who were Levites, explained the Law to the people, while the people all kept their places.

Ezra read from the book of the Law of God, translating and giving the sense; so the reading was understood.

Then His Excellency Nehemiah and the priest-scribe Ezra and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, 'Today is sacred to Yahweh your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.' For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law.

He then said, 'You may go; eat what is rich, drink what is sweet and send a helping to the man who has nothing prepared. For today is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of Yahweh is your stronghold.'

And the Levites calmed all the people down, saying, 'Keep quiet; this is a sacred day. Do not be sad.'

Then all the people went off to eat and drink and give helpings away and enjoy themselves to the full, since they had understood the meaning of what had been proclaimed to them.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The chapter begins with a description of the great moment of the unity of the people who find themselves in Jerusalem: "All the people gathered together into the square." The reading of the "book of the Law of Moses" creates this unity: "The ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law." We can suppose that the reference is to the Pentateuch, which, in the postexilic period, ever more becomes the heart of the life of faith of Israel, together with worship in the Jerusalem temple. In reality, when the word "Law" is mentioned in the Hebrew Torah, besides indicating the Pentateuch, it more generally means God’s teaching, so the term has a broader definition than a collection of norms and rules to be observed. The reading of the Law is made upon an elevated place, a rostrum, as in the synagogue, or like the pulpit in churches, so that the word of God may be heard by all and also so that the book may be seen. It is beautiful to visualize what happens to the one who listens to the reading of the book: first of all, the whole people stood up the moment the book was opened; they then knelt down and bowed as a sign of reverence and devotion for the book of the word of God. This page exhorts us to develop a true and proper devotion for the book of the word of God so that we read and hear it in an atmosphere of listening and prayer. The author notes that the gathered assembly read and heard the reading of the text and the explanation that was being given. Since then, it seems clear that in order to understand the book of the Word of God, an individual reading is not sufficient. The Word is always to be read amidst the people, within the Church, and heard together with its explanation. The result of this common hearing in prayer is to be moved in the heart to the point of tears, as in this case. Ezra, however, exhorts that there be no mourning or crying, but on the contrary, rejoicing: "Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." The word of God, when heard with the heart, satisfies one’s hunger and thirst ("man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which comes from the mouth of God"); it offers the possibility of being in solidarity with the one who has not, takes away that sadness that is typical of the ones who are used to hearing it by themselves, and gives to all the joy of the presence of God, who is strength of life.


01/09/2010
Prayer of the Christmas season


Calendar of the week
NOV
27
Sunday, 27 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
NOV
28
Monday, 28 November
Memory of the Poor
NOV
29
Tuesday, 29 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
NOV
30
Wednesday, 30 November
Memory of the Apostles
DEC
1
Thursday, 1 December
Memory of the Church
DEC
2
Friday, 2 December
Memory of Jesus crucified
DEC
3
Saturday, 3 December
Sunday Vigil
DEC
4
Sunday, 4 December
Liturgy of the Sunday