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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Zechariah and of Elizabeth, who in her old age conceived John the Baptist.

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

2 Chronicles 17, 1-19

When his son Jehoshaphat succeeded him, he made himself stronger against Israel

by stationing troops in all the fortified towns in Judah and by garrisoning Judah and the towns of Ephraim which his father Asa had captured.

Yahweh was with Jehoshaphat because he followed the example of his father's earlier days and did not have recourse to Baal,

but sought Yahweh, the God of his father, following his commandments and not behaving as Israel did.

Because of this, Yahweh put him in secure control of the kingdom, while all Judah gave Jehoshaphat presents until ample riches and honour were his.

He was so enthusiastic about obeying Yahweh that once again he abolished the high places and sacred poles in Judah.

In the third year of his reign he sent his leading men-Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel and Micaiah, to give instruction in the towns of Judah.

With them went the Levites: Shemaiah, Nethaniah, Zebadiah, Asahel, Shemiramoth, Jehonathan, Adonijah and Tobijah, the Levites; Elishama and Jehoram the priests went with them.

They gave instruction in Judah, having with them the book of the Law of Yahweh, and went round all the towns of Judah instructing the people.

A panic from Yahweh seized all the kings of the countries surrounding Judah, as a result of which they did not make war on Jehoshaphat.

Some of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents and a load of silver and the Arabs brought him seven thousand seven hundred rams and seven thousand seven hundred he-goats.

Jehoshaphat became more and more powerful. He built fortresses and storage towns in Judah.

He accumulated ample supplies in the towns of Judah. He also had warriors, outstanding men, in Jerusalem.

According to family, this is how they were classified: Over the commanders of the thousands of Judah was General Adnah, who had three hundred thousand outstanding men;

Under him was General Jehohanan, who had two hundred and eighty thousand;

Under him was Amasiah son of Zichri, who had volunteered for Yahweh and who had two hundred thousand outstanding men;

That outstanding soldier, Eliada, represented Benjamin, and he had two hundred thousand men armed with bow and shield;

And under him Jehozabad, who had one hundred and eighty thousand equipped for war.

These were in attendance on the king, apart from those whom the king had stationed in the fortified towns all over Judah.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The chronicler devotes the next four chapters to Jehoshaphat (872-848 B.C.) that he considers one of the most important kings after Salomon, together with Hezekiah and Josiah. He soon appears as a true leader for the people of Judah. He walks in the way of his father, and the primacy of God is his top worry. Jehoshaphat seeks God’s will and commits himself in a religious reform against the heathen practices, common in the northern kingdom (v.3-4). The results are immediately evident: abundant wealth and glory are bestowed on the king and his people (v. 5). Yet Jehoshaphat does not pride himself, but he grows in worshipping God and being more and more zealous against idolatry (v.6). He engages in a travelling mission through all the cities in Judah to teach his people as he understands the law of the Lord must be transmitted to everyone, so that all the people learn and understand it. We could say, in Christian words, that he starts a true evangelization. It is not the people who go to the temple and listen to the priests’ teaching nor do they go to synagogues and receive instructions. It’s something totally new: people are taught where they usually live. Besides Jehoshaphat sends also some Levites together with the priests, the only ones who could usually teach the Torah of the Lord to the people. The presence of five “laymen” in this mission was unusual. The only analogy with this itinerant mission organized by Jehoshaphat is Samuel’s experience as itinerant judge (1 Sam 7:16). There is only a situation like this travelling mission, it is the life of Samuel who becomes a travelling judge (1 Sam 7:16). Actually, the Chronicler appears to suggest this model evangelization to the people in charge of the Judaic community in his time. Indeed, it is a very practicable model even nowadays. The outcome of the king’s observance and his honest conduct are appreciated also in the neighbouring countries; they recognize the supremacy of the king of Jerusalem and bring him gifts, as they did in Solomon’s time as the people were protected from war. It is a time of peace and prosperity because everyone knows and observes the law. The king can carry out his plans of big constructions in Judah and reorganize also the army that now doubles exactly the soldiers of Asa. These quantities are obviously artificial; nonetheless they show how highly the author regards Jehoshaphat. We find a sign of the enthusiasm, that at least some have, for Jehoshaphat’s reform in 17:16, the commander Amasiah is described as “a volunteer for the service of the LORD”. In addition to the already mentioned garrison in Jerusalem, the king places other garrisons in the fortified cities throughout all Judah (17: 19). Jehoshaphat seeks the Lord and reforms his kingdom. The Lord blesses him, as he blessed David and Solomon, but the kingdom will not reunite. It seems the Chronicler appeals ultimately to his community so that they start again putting the quest for the Lord first meditating on the Torah in accordance with the Psalmist’s advice: “Happy are those …… [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law they meditate day and night”(Ps 1:2).

Prayer for the Sick