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The Everyday Prayer

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

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Nehemiah 9,24-29

The children entered and took possession of the country and before them you subdued the country's inhabitants, the Canaanites, whom you put at their mercy, with their kings and the peoples of the country, for them to treat as they pleased;

they captured fortified towns and a fertile countryside, they took possession of houses stocked with all kinds of goods, of storage-wells ready-hewn, of vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in profusion; so they ate, were full, grew fat and revelled in your great goodness.

'But they grew disobedient, rebelled against you and thrust your law behind their backs; they slaughtered your prophets who had reproved them to bring them back to you, and committed monstrous impieties.

So you put them at the mercy of their enemies who oppressed them. But when they were being oppressed and called to you, you heard them from heaven and because of your great compassion you gave them deliverers who rescued them from their oppressors' clutches.

But once at peace again, again they did what was wrong before you; so you put them at the mercy of their enemies who then became their rulers. When they called to you again, you heard them from heaven and, because of your compassion, rescued them many times.

You warned them, to bring them back to your law, but they became arrogant, did not obey your commandments and sinned against your rules, in whose observance is life; they turned a stubborn shoulder, were obstinate, and disobeyed.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The passage of the book of Nehemiah takes us to the end of the journey through which God has led Israel to the freedom of the land. The language used by the author is very similar to that of the books of Deuteronomy and Judges. Once again, we find the paradox of the Lord’s unconditional love despite the disobedience and rebellion of the people of Israel: "But then they disobeyed, they rebelled against you, they cast your law behind their back, they killed your prophets....." Israel continues to refuse to hear God when he speaks, and this happens each time that it gets comfortable in the well-being and tranquillity that it has achieved, moreover with the Lord’s indispensable aid. Israel had obtained what it desired, and its people had become sated with the goods of the land ("they possessed houses full of every good"); all this had led them to forget that it had all been God’s free gift, certainly not due to their merit. The Psalm says it well: "Mortals cannot abide in their pomp; they are like the animals that perish" (49:12). Riches lead one to forget God, because they make us think we are masters of things, rather than teaching us gratitude for all that has been received from life. The Bible does not condemn riches, rather they are seen as the result of divine blessing, but it guards us against a foolish possession of things and repeatedly invites us to trust in God. Jesus himself emphasized it often when speaking to his disciples: "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. 23For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing" (Lk 12:22-23). The Lord admonishes us, as he did with his people, so that we listen to his word, which makes us live: "And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your ordinances, by the observance of which a person shall live." How many times have we experienced the truth of these words! Truly God’s word makes us live. It is the only source of joy and well-being. We should however be alert, since it is easy to be deceived by a materialistic society in which what counts is what one has and one lives in fear of losing one’s own well-being. Let us entrust ourselves to the Lord, aware that he does not abandon those who trust in him and listen to him.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets