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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

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Chronicles 9, 1-12

The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's fame and came to Jerusalem to test Solomon with difficult questions, with a very large retinue with camels laden with spices and an immense quantity of gold and precious stones. Having reached Solomon, she discussed everything that she had in mind with him,

and Solomon had an answer for all her questions; not one of them was too obscure for Solomon to answer for her.

When the queen of Sheba saw how wise Solomon was, the palace which he had built,

the food at his table, the accommodation for his officials, the organisation of his staff and the way they were dressed, his cupbearers and the way they were dressed, and the burnt offerings, which he made in the Temple of Yahweh, it left her breathless,

and she said to the king, 'The report I heard in my own country about you and about your wisdom in handling your affairs was true, then!

Until I came and saw for myself, I did not believe the reports, but clearly I was told less than half about the true extent of your wisdom. You surpass what was reported to me.

How fortunate your people are! How fortunate your courtiers, continually in attendance on you and listening to your wisdom!

Blessed be Yahweh your God. Because your God loved Israel and meant to keep it secure for ever, he has made you its king to administer law and justice.'

And she presented the king with a hundred and twenty talents of gold and great quantities of spices and precious stones. There never were such spices as those which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Similarly, the men employed by Huram and the men employed by Solomon, who brought the gold from Ophir, also brought back algum wood and precious stones.

Of the algum wood the king made steps for the Temple of Yahweh and for the royal palace, and harps and lyres for the musicians, the like of which had never before been seen in Judah.

And King Solomon, in his turn, presented the queen of Sheba with everything that she expressed a wish for, besides what he gave her in exchange for what she had brought to the king. After which, she went home to her own country, she and her servants.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Queen of Sheba – the territory of Sheba corresponds to the current Yemen – is attracted by the fame of Solomon. She goes to Jerusalem to ascertain whether the king would be able to solve the puzzles that she had. Solomon, challenged by the questions of the queen, was in no way inferior to his fame. He appears truly as the most wise and the most authoritative among the neighbouring kings. It is evident that the Chronicler wants to trace Solomon’s superiority back to God himself.. Through Solomon, in fact, the power and strength of the Lord must appear. All the wisdom and strength that Solomon has comes from on High, from God himself. This is the golden thread that guides the entire history of salvation, which is the work of God and not of human beings. What is said of Solomon ought also to be affirmed of the Church, which is in a certain manner prefigured here: all that the Church has is gift from God. Indeed, she exists precisely to be the place of the presence of the Lord and of an encounter with Him. The greatness and wisdom of Solomon are not meant to draw attention to the king, but to direct people towards the Lord. The Queen of Sheba was positively upset by the wisdom of the king, by his wealth, by the splendour of court ceremonial, by refined foods and by the dignified bearing of his servants (vv. 3-6). Her astonishment immediately becomes a word of beatitude for the subjects of Solomon: "Happy are your people! Happy are these your servants, who continually attend you and hear your wisdom!" (v. 7). Then from her lips rises a blessing to the God of Solomon who had wanted him as his representative on earth. We could say that Solomon and his people have fulfilled a true and proper mission: the Queen of Sheba, meeting the King and his people, has praised the Lord. And the Chronicler, as if to confirm this, adds that through his king, God will preserve Israel forever (2 Chr 9:8). The exchange of gifts expresses the beauty of the meeting in a profound, spiritual, and amicable way. The gifts of the queen are of enormous value: 120 talents of gold correspond to five tons of gold. But even more extraordinary was the amount of spices: nothing like this had ever been seen in Israel (v. 9). In fact, however, Solomon was not enriched by these wonderful gifts of the Queen of Sheba. He had other sources of wealth: one of them was Ophir, whence, besides gold, sandal­wood was imported (v. 10), a wood never seen before then (v. 11). Solomon did not allow himself to be outdone in generosity in the exchange of gifts.(v. 12). The queen went back enriched, not so much in material goods as in having encountered a man of God. The sacred author writes that the Queen received "every desire that she expressed" (v. 12). The strength of Solomon impelled the vassal kings to acknowledge his authority and protection even over them.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets