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The Everyday Prayer

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

Remembrance of St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun with a deep sense of mission of the Church.

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 21, 1-6

Satan took his stand against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

David said to Joab and the people's princes, 'Go, and take a census of Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, then bring it back to me and let me know the total.'

Joab replied, 'May Yahweh multiply his people to a hundred times what they are today! But my lord king, are they not all my lord's servants in any case? Why should my lord insist on this? Why should he involve Israel in guilt?'

But the king enforced his order on Joab, and Joab set out, travelled throughout all Israel, and then returned to Jerusalem.

Joab gave David the census results for the people: all Israel had eleven hundred thousand men who could wield a sword; Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who could wield a sword.

Joab had found the king's command so distasteful that he did not include Levi and Benjamin.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This chapter begins the final section of the first Book of Chronicles, which will end with chapter twenty-nine. The entire section is devoted to the preparations for the construction of the temple: from the selection of the space, the arrangements for the service, the duties of priests, the singers, the gatekeepers, and so on. Finally, David proclaims his son Solomon as king. David organizes everything before starting work. And, finally, as Moses did, so does David, who appoints his successor. The purpose of the Chronicler is to show David as one who is at the origin of both the temple and the worship. It is remarkable, however, that everything begins with the narration of the heavy responsibility of David in wanting the census. Some suggest that the sacred author - that so far has avoided any reference to the faults of David - underlines the sin of the census because it permits the selection of the area of the temple. In short, from this sin is derived the decisive choice of the Davidic kingdom, which is the building of the temple and the establishment of the cult. In any case, the sin of David is placed as a dramatic prelude to the construction of the temple. We can say that there is a mystery of sin that cuts through the entire history of salvation. It is not a linear story, not the history of men and women pure and without fault. Sin seems to be an integral part of salvation history. We should reflect on the fact that the Church, on the night of Holy Saturday, conscious of the sinfulness of her children, and recalling the original sin of Adam, sings: "Truly Adam’s sin was necessary, that it was destroyed with the death of Christ. O happy fault which deserved so great a Redeemer!"(Exultet). It is the mystery of the primacy of God and only God, in the victory of good over evil. Obviously this does not justify the sin of believers, but it reminds us that it is only God who saves, certainly not our coherence. In this perspective we can understand also the sin that David committed indicting the census. Truthfully, Satan, who is cited as a proper name, as a being endowed with its own identity, incited David to do evil according to his plan. We are on the path that will lead to the conception of Satan's own late Judaism and Christian writings. The reporter begins by saying that Satan stood up against Israel: it is evil that wants to prevent, to stop the march forward toward goodness and thus incites David to indict a census. Not only does the king want to get an exact idea of his actual conquests and above all of his military possibility, but actually he thinks of himself as the true guide, the true leader of Israel. It is the ancient sin of Adam: becoming like "God," or better yet, putting himself in the place of God. And yet, David had been warned by Joab not to take this path, to not attempt the census. Nonetheless, David forgot that only God was the Lord of his people and that He alone was the true force. He preferred to follow his pride. In the eyes of others - perhaps even in our own - it would seem a reasonable choice. In truth, it hides the danger of pride and of exaltation of oneself. David reasoned according to people and not according to God. Perhaps, if he remembered the story of Gideon, he would not have insisted on the census. In the book of Judges it is said, indeed, that the Lord asked Gideon to reduce his men: at first made him choose ten thousand men and of these he took only three hundred. With them he defeated the Midianites moreover using simply pitchers and trumpets (Judges 7). This is the rationale behind the whole history of salvation, even today.

Prayer for the Sick