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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

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Chronicles 15, 1-29

After he had put up buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.

David then said, 'No one but the Levites should carry the ark of God, since Yahweh has chosen them to carry the ark of Yahweh and to minister to him for ever.'

David then summoned all Israel to Jerusalem, to move the ark of Yahweh to the place which he had prepared for it.

David also called the sons of Aaron and the Levites together:

of the sons of Kohath: Uriel the chief and his hundred and twenty kinsmen;

of the sons of Merari: Asaiah the chief and his two hundred and twenty kinsmen;

of the sons of Gershom: Joel the chief and his hundred and thirty kinsmen;

of the sons of Elizaphan: Shemaiah the chief and his two hundred kinsmen;

of the sons of Hebron: Eliel the chief and eighty kinsmen;

of the sons of Uzziel: Amminadab the chief and his hundred and twelve kinsmen.

David then sent for the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab.

To them he said, 'You are the heads of the levitical families. Sanctify yourselves, you and your kinsmen, so that you can move the ark of Yahweh, God of Israel, to the place which I have prepared for it.

Because you were not there the first time, Yahweh our God broke out at us because we did not handle it properly.'

So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves, to move the ark of Yahweh, God of Israel,

and the Levites carried the ark of God with the shafts on their shoulders, as Moses had ordered in accordance with the word of Yahweh.

David also told the heads of the Levites to appoint their kinsmen as singers with the accompaniment of musical instruments, lyres, harps, and cymbals to play joyfully.

The Levites then appointed Heman son of Joel, Asaph son of Berechiah, one of his brothers, Ethan son of Kushaiah, one of their Merarite kinsmen;

and with them their kinsmen of the second rank: Zechariah, Uzziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, and Obed-Edom and Jehiel the gatekeepers.

The singers, Heman, Asaph and Ethan, were to play the bronze cymbals.

Zechariah, Uzziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyre.

Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jehiel and Azaziah, giving the beat, were to play the harp.

Chenaniah, the levitical director of transport was in charge of the transport, being skilful at it.

Berechiah and Elkanah were gatekeepers for the ark.

The priests Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer blew trumpets before the ark of God, while Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also gatekeepers for the ark.

David, the elders of Israel and the commanders of the thousands accordingly went, amid great rejoicing, to bring the ark of the covenant of Yahweh up from Obed-Edom's house,

and since God was helping the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.

David, all the Levites who carried the ark, the singers and Chenaniah, director of transport, wore cloaks of fine linen. David also wore a linen ephod.

Thus, with war-cries and the sounding of the horn, the trumpets and the cymbals, and the music of lyres and harps, all Israel transported the ark of the covenant of Yahweh.

Now, as the ark of the covenant of Yahweh entered the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul was watching from the window and, when she saw King David dancing and playing, the sight of him filled her with contempt.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Chapters fifteen and sixteen form a unity from the viewpoint of content: these describe the transport of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and the worship that turns to its place. It is the second act of the story of David, in the narrative of the Chronicler. After mentioning the first three verses of the preparations undertaken to transport the Ark, a list of Levites participating in the ceremony is provided (w. 4-10), along with their purification (vv. 11-15), and the list of the singers, the gate-keepers and officials of the ark (vv. 16-24). In the following nine verses, the ceremony of the transport of the Ark is described. The departure is from the home of Obed-edom, where it was temporarily located, with a large procession walking toward Jerusalem. The detailed description shows the sanctity of the gesture that the entire population of Israel is carrying out. The greatness of David, who organizes with care every small particular as he himself leads this grand celebration, also appears. He is so taken by this ritual that he does not even fear the mockery of Saul’s daughter, Michal (v. 29). What counts for David is the centrality that the ark must have to determine the identity of Israel. It is the place of God’s word: it contains the tablets of the law (for this reason it is called the ark of the testimony) and it is the place to meet God, to obtain an oracle or to pray to him. It was- as we know- a furnishing of wood (cm 125 x 75 x 75) built by Moses upon an order from God, where the tables of the covenant were kept (Ex 25:10-20). The case was covered by a gold laminate, the propitiatory, and surmounted by two cherubims with outstretched wings. It had two functions: keeper of the Ten Commandments and throne of God who "is seated upon the cherubims." During the exodus and the conquest of the promised land, it was the sign of the active presence of God: when the Israelites left Sinai it was before them and indicated where they were to stop; it opened the passage of the Jordan for all of the people as they entered the promised land, was kept in the various shrines and finally - the great achievement of David that the Chronicler wants to emphasize - is brought to Jerusalem. In the ark we can see the figure of the actual tent which will be placed among men when it comes to the fullness of time, when "Word became flesh and lived among us" (Jn 1:14). It is a beautiful description of the ark that St. Thomas Aquinas made in relation to Jesus. Taking a hint from the author of the letter to the Hebrews according to which the sacrifice of Christ is the one and only effective sacrifice and supersedes all offers the Old Testament, Aquinas writes: "Even the ark signifies Christ because how the ark was built with setim wood, likewise Christ’s body was made of the most pure limbs. It was also golden, because Christ was filled with wisdom and love, which are signified by gold. In the ark was a golden urn, that is a holy soul; it had the manna, that is, the whole fullness of deity. In the ark there was also a rod, that is, the priestly power, because Jesus became a priest forever. There were also the tables of the covenant: to indicate that Christ himself is the one who gives the law." The honour given to the ark, as described in the passage we read, is understood even more if we see it addressed to Jesus and his Church. An honour and a tremor that we find described in Revelation at the moment of the opening of the temple of God in heaven, when "the ark of the covenant" appeared: "Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail" (11:19).

Memory of the Poor