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The Everyday Prayer


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

Memory of St. Ireneus, bishop of Lyon and martyr (130-202); he went to France from Anatolia to preach the Gospel.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Kings 9,1-26

The prophet Elisha summoned a member of the prophetic brotherhood to him, 'Hitch up your clothes, take this flask of oil, and go to Ramoth in Gilead.

When you arrive there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Then, when you find him, tell him to get up and leave his companions, and take him into an inner room.

Take the flask of oil then and pour it over his head, and say, "Yahweh says this: I have anointed you king of Israel." Then open the door and flee as fast as you can.'

The young man left for Ramoth in Gilead

and when he arrived, found the senior officers of the army sitting together. 'I have a message for you, commander,' he said. 'For which of us?' asked Jehu. 'For you, commander,' he answered.

Jehu then got up and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying, 'Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, "I have anointed you king of Yahweh's people, of Israel.

You will strike down the family of Ahab your master, and I shall avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and all of Yahweh's servants, on Jezebel

and on the whole family of Ahab. I shall destroy every manjack of Ahab's family, fettered or free in Israel.

I shall make the House of Ahab like the House of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah.

As for Jezebel, the dogs will eat her in the field of Jezreel; no one will bury her." ' With this, he opened the door and made his escape.

Jehu came out to his master's officers. 'Is all well?' they asked him. 'Why did this madman come to you?' 'You know the fellow and how he talks,' he answered.

'Evasion!' they cried, 'Come on, tell us.' He replied, 'He said this and that to me. He said, "Yahweh says this: I have anointed you king of Israel." '

Whereupon they all took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps; they sounded the trumpet and shouted, 'Jehu is king!'

Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi plotted against Jehoram. (At the time, Jehoram, with all Israel, was holding Ramoth in Gilead against an attack by Hazael king of Aram,

but King Jehoram had gone back to Jezreel to recover from the wounds which he had received from the Aramaeans while he was fighting against Hazael king of Aram.) 'If you agree,' Jehu said, 'let no one leave the town to go and take the news to Jezreel.'

Jehu then mounted his chariot and left for Jezreel; Jehoram had taken to his bed there, and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to visit him.

The lookout posted on the tower of Jezreel saw Jehu's troop approaching. 'I can see a body of men,' he shouted. Jehoram gave the order: 'Have a horseman sent to meet them and ask, "Is all well?" '

The horseman went to meet Jehu and said, 'The king says, "Is all well?" ' 'What has it to do with you whether all is well?' Jehu replied. 'Fall in behind me.' The lookout reported, 'The messenger has reached them and is not coming back.'

The king sent a second horseman who reached them and said, 'The king says, "Is all well?" ' 'What has it to do with you whether all is well?' Jehu replied. 'Fall in behind me.'

The lookout reported, 'He has reached them and is not coming back. The manner of driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi: he drives like a madman.'

'Harness!' Jehoram cried; and they harnessed his chariot. Then Jehoram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah, each in his chariot, set out to meet Jehu. They reached him in the field of Naboth of Jezreel.

As soon as Jehoram saw Jehu he asked, 'Is all well, Jehu?' 'What a question!' he replied, 'when all the while the prostitutions and countless sorceries of your mother Jezebel go on.'

At this, Jehoram wheeled and fled, saying to Ahaziah, 'Treason, Ahaziah!'

But Jehu had drawn his bow; he struck Jehoram between the shoulder-blades, the arrow went through the king's heart, and he sank down in his chariot.

'Pick him up,' Jehu said to Bidkar, his equerry, 'and throw him into the field of Naboth of Jezreel. Remember how, when you and I manned a chariot together behind Ahab his father, Yahweh pronounced this sentence against him,

"This I swear. Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons -- Yahweh says this. And in this same field I shall requite you -- Yahweh says this." So pick him up, and throw him into the field, as Yahweh declared should happen!'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord had given Elijah a threefold task on Horeb: to anoint Hazael as king of Aram, Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as prophet (1 Kings 19:15-16). The only thing that Elijah did right away was call Elisha: the other tasks remained unfinished. Later it will be Elisha who will personally travel to Damascus to announce to Hazael that he will become king of Aram (2 Kings 8:15). Now he sends a disciple to anoint Jehu as king. The author wants to underline both the continuity of prophecy in the people of Israel and the breadth of the prophetic task. First of all we can say that the "sound of sheer silence" that Elijah heard on mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:12) is the Word of God that continues to work in history through its prophets. And by sending one of his disciples, Elisha confirms that the prophet’s task is not the exclusive responsibility of a few. We certainly should recognize the charisma present in some individuals chosen by God, but even they should not keep the gift God has given them for themselves. Elisha, in fact, calls one of his disciples and gives him the mission of consecrating Jehu as king. The prophet Joel - who is quoted by Peter in his speech on Pentecost - reminded the people of Israel that the Lord was going to pour out his Spirit on every person and added, "your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28). The responsibility of communicating the Word of God belongs to all believers, even if not always in the same way. The prophetic word is always strong and effective, no matter the situation. Elisha’s disciple reveals to Jehu the Lord’s decision to place him at the head of his people and his condemnation of those who oppose his life. His words against the house of Ahab are extremely harsh and they recall Elijah’s words about the shady story of Naboth’s vineyard.: "I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’" (l Kings 21:21-23). The same expressions were used to reference Jeroboam and Baasha. The prophet Ahijah said to the wife of Jeroboam: "Therefore, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every male, both bond and free, in Israel and will consume the house of Jeroboam, just as one burns up dung until it is all gone. Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city, the dogs shall eat; and anyone who dies in the open country, the birds of the air shall eat" (1 Kings 14:10-11), and the second part of the prophecy was repeated to the king Baasha (1 Kings 16:4). The words spoken by Elisha’s disciple are the end of the crescendo of accumulated evils committed by the kings of the north. But the disciple also announces the rest of the story. His companions, in fact, proclaim Jehu king, and he immediately goes to kill Jeroboam, the king of Israel, and the king of Judah, who happened to be there, is also killed during his fleeing. Even Queen Jezebel will be killed and devoured by dogs; Elijah’s great adversary vanishes without a tomb. The next chapter (10) tells of the extermination of all of Ahab’s sons and of the brothers of the king of Judah, because their mother was Ahab’s daughter. Finally, by pretending to offer a great sacrifice to the god Baal, Jehu gathers all the worshipers of Baal into the god’s temple and has them exterminated (sacrificing them, in effect, to Baal!). But the unfaithfulness of the northern kingdom does not end with the end of the cult to Baal, because the two golden calves made by Jeroboam still exist. Sin never vanishes once and for all. It is necessary to keep listening to the prophetic word. It continually puts us on guard against venerating the idols that we gradually make for ourselves and on which we sacrifice our very lives: slaves of idols and slaves of ourselves.


06/28/2010
Memory of the Poor


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