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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Chronicles 14, 1-14

Asa did what Yahweh his God regards as good and right.

He abolished the foreign altars and the high places, broke the pillars, cut down the sacred poles,

and urged Judah to seek Yahweh, God of their ancestors, and to observe the law and commandment.

Because he abolished the high places and incense altars through the towns of Judah, the kingdom under him was undisturbed.

He rebuilt the fortified towns of Judah, since the country was at peace and free of war during those years, because Yahweh had granted him peace.

'Let us rebuild these towns,' he told Judah, 'let us surround them with wall and tower, with gate and bar while the country is still ours, for we have sought Yahweh our God and he has sought us and given us peace all around.' They built and prospered.

Asa had an army of three hundred thousand men of Judah armed with shields and spears and two hundred and eighty thousand men of Benjamin armed with shields and bows, all of them outstanding soldiers.

Zerah the Cushite took the field against them with an army a million strong and three hundred chariots, and penetrated to Mareshah.

Asa took the field against him and the battle-lines were drawn up in the Valley of Zephathah, at Mareshah.

Asa then called on Yahweh his God and said, 'Yahweh, numbers and strength make no difference to you when you give your help. Help us, Yahweh our God, for, relying on you, we are confronting this horde in your name. Yahweh, you are our God. Human strength cannot prevail against you!'

Yahweh routed the Cushites before Asa and Judah. The Cushites fled,

and Asa pursued them with his army as far as Gerar. So many of the Cushites fell that they were unable to survive. They were cut to pieces by Yahweh and his army. They carried off a great deal of booty,

they destroyed all the towns round Gerar -- for a panic from Yahweh had seized the towns -- and plundered all the towns since they were full of loot.

They also routed the cattle-owners and carried off great numbers of sheep and camels; then they returned to Jerusalem.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In chapters 14 to 16, the Chronicler reports the story of Asa; he is described as a king faithful to God and to his law. He is the first of the four reformer kings who restore and purify the cult in Judah. The other three are Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah. The contents of this reform are narrated also in the first Book of Kings (15:12-15), even if they are here considerably enlarged and reworked. Asa removes the heathen altars and the foreign pillars, but above all commands Judah “to seek the LORD” (v. 3). The God of their fathers is the one true Lord. That is the reason why all the other idols had to be destroyed. Thanks to their religious sovereignty, the people of Judah are able to enjoy true peace that is not only absence of war, but participation to divine life. Asa is a religious reformer as well as a clever governor of his kingdom. He takes advantage of the years of peace and reinforces his reign building fortified cities or repairing those which needed it; he fortifies them with walls, towers and bar gates and his people help him. The work is successful because the Lord responds to his people who are seeking Him (vv. 5-6). Although he is a religious king, Asa is attacked by an enemy army coming from Ethiopia. The force is incredibly large: a million men and three hundred chariots. What can Asa do against such a strong power? Hence, the prayer of the king for his people: “O Lord, there is no difference for you between helping the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let no mortal prevail against you” (v. 10). This is the believer’s prayer who trusts in God. Asa recognizes the enemy’s power and his weakness unfalteringly. Yet he knows the Lord looks at the believer’s weakness with love. It is the weak strength of the faith, as it appears so many times in the Scripture and in the lives of the believers during the centuries. The Lord listened to the prayer of the king and the Ethiopian army is crushed: “the Ethiopians fell until no one remained alive” (13). The Lord pays attention to the prayer of the weak, we repeatedly read this in the Holy Scripture, and he intervenes on their behalf. The people of Judah “trusted in the Lord” and the Lord fought to save them. The Lord only is involved in the battle: “And so the LORD defeated the Ethiopians” (v. 12), the Chronicler observes. Asa’s army only pursues the enemies as they flee.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord