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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Saint Scholastica (480 AD - 547ca), sister of Saint Benedict. With her we remember all women hermits and nuns together with all the women who follow the Lord.

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

Tobit 13,1-14,1

And he said: Blessed be God who lives for ever, for his reign endures throughout all ages!

For he both punishes and pardons; he sends people down to the depths of the underworld and draws them up from utter Destruction; no one can escape his hand.

Declare his praise before the nations, you who are the children of Israel! For if he has scattered you among them,

there too he has shown you his greatness. Extol him before all the living; he is our Lord and he is our God; he is our Father, and he is God for ever and ever.

Though he punishes you for your iniquities, he will take pity on you all; he will gather you from every nation wherever you have been scattered.

If you return to him with all your heart and all your soul, behaving honestly towards him, then he will return to you and hide his face from you no longer. Consider how well he has treated you; loudly give him thanks. Bless the Lord of justice and extol the King of the ages. I for my part sing his praise in the country of my exile; I make his power and greatness known to a nation that has sinned. Sinners, return to him; let your conduct be upright before him; perhaps he will be gracious to you and take pity on you.

I for my part extol God and my soul rejoices in the King of heaven. Let his greatness

be on every tongue, his praises be sung in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Holy City, God has scourged you for what you have done but will still take pity on the children of the upright.

Thank the Lord as he deserves and bless the King of the ages, that your Temple may be rebuilt with joy within you; within you he may comfort every exile, and within you he may love all those who are distressed, for all generations to come.

A bright light will shine over all the regions of the earth; many nations will come from far away, from all the ends of the earth, to dwell close to the holy name of the Lord God, with gifts in their hands for the King of heaven. Within you, generation after generation will proclaim their joy, and the name of her who is Elect will endure through the generations to come.

Cursed be any who affront you, cursed be any who destroy you, who throw down your walls, who rase your towers, who burn your houses! Eternally blessed be he who rebuilds you!

Then you will exult, and rejoice over the children of the upright, for they will all have been gathered in and will bless the Lord of the ages.

Blessed are those who love you, blessed those who rejoice over your peace, blessed those who have mourned over all your punishment! For they will soon rejoice within you, witness all your blessedness in days to come.

My soul blesses the Lord, the great King

because Jerusalem will be built anew and his house for ever and ever. What bliss, if one of my family be left to see your glory and praise the King of heaven! The gates of Jerusalem will be built of sapphire and of emerald, and all your walls of precious stone, the towers of Jerusalem will be built of gold and their battlements of pure gold.

The streets of Jerusalem will be paved with ruby and with stones from Ophir; the gates of Jerusalem will resound with songs of exultation; and all her houses will say, 'Alleluia! Blessed be the God of Israel.' Within you they will bless the holy name for ever and ever.

The end of the hymns of Tobit. Tobit died when he was a hundred and twelve years old and received an honourable burial in Nineveh.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the fifth and last prayer present in this little book. Tobit does not stop at blessing God, as every good Jew does, but he also emphasizes the fact that he has received everything from God and his mercy. The old father, who is living in exile, knows that he may never see Jerusalem again. And yet his heart is directed toward the holy city. Consequently, he moves from his personal experience to a rereading of the history of his people. He fixes his gaze on Jerusalem, the city that "will be built as [the Lord’s] house for all ages" (13:16), the realization of the dream of "living together" around the Lord that constitutes the hope of the people of Israel. We could also say that this is the dream of every believer, indeed of every man and woman: how could we not hope for a city of peace to be built in place of the city of Cain (cfr. Gen 4:17)? As the book of Revelation shows, the celestial Jerusalem embraces all expectations and brings to life every hope for Christians, as well. The human city is always fragile and weak, but "there is nothing that can escape [the] hand [of the Lord]" (13:2), he who, "leads down...and brings up." Tobit has experienced weakness and frailty; he has felt the burning of weakness and adversity, but he raises his eyes to God and discovers that, "he is our Lord and he is our God; he is our Father and he is God forever" (v. 4). And, after having discovered this personally, he can now announce to his brothers and sisters in faith (as well as to others) that if we trust in the Lord in the moments of darkness, we will experience his mercy. What Tobit experienced personally is also true for Jerusalem: "he afflicted you ... but will again have mercy ...his tent may be rebuilt in you in joy" (13:9-10). Hope in the Lord is never misplaced, because the Lord desires the joy of his children. Jerusalem will become like "a bright light...to all the ends of the earth" (13:11). From Jerusalem will come salvation for all people: "Many nations will come to you from far away, the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth to your holy name" (v. 11). This is the vision of the universality of salvation revealed by the prophets that every believer should make his or her own. A vision of the salvation of all people needs to be in every believer’s heart, and it is in this context that every believer needs to work. This is why all violence should be condemned, "Cursed are all who speak a harsh word against you; ... and pull down your walls, ... and set your homes on fire" (v. 12). Jerusalem, which the author personifies as a woman, is hidden in every city. He urges her to get up and rejoice for all of her children. In a prophetic vision, Tobit blesses the "great King" who returns to enter into a rebuilt Jerusalem. This is the vision that Tobit hands down to us, too, at the beginning of this new millennium, so that we might strive not to close in on ourselves, but to dream that the human family might be gathered around the Lord.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets