Riccardi Andrea: on the web

Riccardi Andrea: on social networks

change language
you are in: home - prayer - the everyday prayer contacting usnewsletterlink

Donation Topbar


The Everyday Prayer

printable version

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

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

Esther 9,1-32

The king's command and decree came into force on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, Adar, and the day on which the enemies of the Jews had hoped to crush them produced the very opposite effect: the Jews it was who crushed their enemies.

In their towns throughout the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the Jews assembled to strike at those who had planned to injure them. No one resisted them, since the various peoples were now all afraid of them.

Provincial officers-of-state, satraps, governors and royal officials, all supported the Jews for fear of Mordecai.

And indeed Mordecai was a power in the palace and his fame was spreading through all the provinces; Mordecai was steadily growing more powerful.

So the Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, with resulting slaughter and destruction, and worked their will on their opponents.

In the citadel of Susa alone, the Jews put to death and slaughtered five hundred men,

notably Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha,

Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha,

Parmashtha, Arisai, Aridai and Jezatha,

the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the persecutor of the Jews. But they took no plunder.

The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day.

The king said to Queen Esther, 'In the citadel of Susa the Jews have killed five hundred men and also the ten sons of Haman. What must they have done in the other provinces of the realm? Tell me your request; I grant it to you. Tell me what else you would like; it is yours for the asking.'

'If such is the king's pleasure,' Esther replied, 'let the Jews of Susa be allowed to enforce today's decree tomorrow as well. And as for the ten sons of Haman, let their bodies be hanged on the gallows.'

Whereupon, the king having given the order, the edict was promulgated in Susa and the ten sons of Haman were hanged.

Thus the Jews of Susa reassembled on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and killed three hundred men in the city. But they took no plunder.

The other Jews who lived in the king's provinces also assembled to defend their lives and rid themselves of their enemies. They slaughtered seventy-five thousand of their opponents. But they took no plunder.

This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. On the fourteenth day they rested and made it a day of feasting and gladness.

But for the Jews of Susa, who had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth days, the fifteenth was the day they rested, making that a day of feasting and gladness.

This is why Jewish country people, those who live in undefended villages, keep the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day of gladness, feasting and holiday-making, and the exchanging of presents with one another, (a) whereas for those who live in cities the day of rejoicing and exchanging presents with their neighbours is the fifteenth day of Adar.

Mordecai committed these events to writing. Then he sent letters to all the Jews living in the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far,

enjoining them to celebrate the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar every year,

as the days on which the Jews had rid themselves of their enemies, and the month in which their sorrow had been turned into gladness, and mourning into a holiday. He therefore told them to keep these as days of festivity and gladness when they were to exchange presents and make gifts to the poor.

Once having begun, the Jews continued observing these practices, Mordecai having written them an account

of how Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the persecutor of all the Jews, had plotted their destruction and had cast the pur, that is, the lot, for their overthrow and ruin;

but how, when he went back to the king to ask him to order the hanging of Mordecai, the wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews recoiled on his own head, and both he and his sons were hanged on the gallows;

and that, hence, these days were called Purim, from the word pur. And so, because of what was written in this letter, and because of what they had seen for themselves and of what had happened to them,

the Jews willingly bound themselves, their descendants and all who should join them, to celebrate these two days without fail, in the manner prescribed and at the time appointed, year after year.

Thus commemorated and celebrated from generation to generation, in every family, in every province, in every city, these days of Purim will never be abrogated among the Jews, nor will their memory perish from their race.

Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, wrote with full authority to ratify this second letter,

and sent letters to all the Jews of the hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the realm of Ahasuerus, in terms of peace and loyalty

enjoining them to observe these days of Purim at the appointed time, as Mordecai the Jew had recommended, and in the manner prescribed for themselves and their descendants, with additional ordinances for fasts and lamentations.

The ordinance of Esther fixed the law of Purim, which was then recorded in a book.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In memory of this event, Mordecai decides that every year there should be celebrated the feast of Purim, from the word Pur, which means lots. The author writes: "Mordecai recorded these things, and sent letters to all the Jews...enjoining them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year, as the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies, and as the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness and from mourning into a holiday" (9:20.22). These would be days in which one should remember the peace found again after the bloody victory over one’s enemies. In effect, the lot of the people had been totally reversed: from the destruction that had been decided by decree of the king as suggested by Haman, they had come not only to the cessation of the decree, but also to the decision of the king to favour the life of the people of Israel. The true meaning of this feast is not of a "political" but of a religious nature, because the reversal of Israel’s servile condition was the work of God, as had occurred already when they were slaves in Egypt and in the following periods. The Lord has not abandoned his people and continues to save them. They have once again been freed by the Lord’s might and can therefore feast with banquets, exchanging gifts among themselves and with the poor, too. The feast of Purim found a place in the faith of Israel: no human tyranny can last forever, and, in any case, will not arrive at the destruction of the people which God has acquired for himself. The meaning of the banquet is to say that "a day of feasting and gladness" (9:17) will come for those who trust in the Lord. It is the faith of the believer who always trusts in the Lord. This faith has been revealed fully with the coming of Jesus, the saviour who, with his death and resurrection, has now definitively defeated evil. The Eucharist remains the banquet that, from now on, makes us taste the definitive victory over evil and death.

Memory of the Poor