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The Everyday Prayer


 
printable version

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 23, 1-21

In the seventh year Jehoiada decided to take action and made a pact with the regimental commanders, Azariah son of Jeroham, Ishmael son of Jehohanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah and Elishaphat son of Zichri.

These went all over Judah, gathering the Levites from all the towns of Judah, and the heads of the Israelite families, who then came to Jerusalem,

and the whole assembly made a pact with the king in the Temple of God. Jehoiada said to them, 'Look, the king's son is now to be king, as Yahweh has promised of the sons of David!

This is what you must do: a third of you priests and Levites who come on duty on the Sabbath must guard the gates,

a third the royal palace, a third the Foundation Gate, while the people must all stay in the courts of the Temple of Yahweh.

No one must enter the Temple of Yahweh except the priests and the ministering Levites; they may come in because they are consecrated. But the people must all observe Yahweh's regulations.

The Levites must surround the king, each man with his weapons in his hands; anyone who enters the Temple must be killed. And you will escort the king when he comes in and when he leaves.'

The Levites and all Judah did everything as Jehoiada the priest had ordered, and each one brought his men, those coming on duty on the Sabbath and those going off duty on the Sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest had not released any of the divisions from duty.

Jehoiada the priest then issued the regimental commanders with King David's spears and large and small shields, which were kept in the Temple of God.

He then positioned all the people, each man with his weapon in his hand, from the south side of the Temple to the north side of the Temple, close to the altar and the Temple, to form a circle round the king.

Then they brought the king's son out, crowned him, gave him a copy of the covenant and made him king. When Jehoiada and his sons had anointed him, they shouted, 'Long live the king!'

On hearing the people shouting as they ran to acclaim the king, Athaliah joined the people in the Temple of Yahweh.

When she looked, there stood the king on his dais by the entrance, with the officers and trumpeters at the king's side, and all the people of the country rejoicing and blowing the trumpets, and the singers with their musical instruments leading the hymns of praise. Then Athaliah tore her clothes and shouted, 'Treason, treason!'

Jehoiada the priest then gave the order to the regimental commanders in charge of the troops, 'Take her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.' For the priest had already said, 'Do not kill her inside the Temple of Yahweh.'

So they made way for her, and when she reached the entrance to the Horses' Gate of the palace, they killed her there.

Jehoiada made a covenant between himself, all the people and the king to remain Yahweh's people.

All the people then went to the temple of Baal and demolished it; they smashed its altars and its images and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.

Jehoiada entrusted the security of the Temple of Yahweh to the priests and Levites, whom David had put in charge of the Temple of Yahweh to present the burnt offerings of Yahweh as laid down in the Law of Moses, with joy and song as ordained by David.

He also appointed gatekeepers for the gates of the Temple of Yahweh, so that no one who was unclean might enter for any purpose at all.

He then took the regimental commanders, the nobles, the government officials and all the people of the land and he escorted the king down from the Temple of Yahweh. Entering the palace through the Upper Gate, they placed the king on the royal throne.

All the people of the land were delighted, and the city made no move after Athaliah had been put to death.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In the temple the reestablishment of the covenant begins: that covenant with the people in the salvation history of the house of David. Jehoiada the priest “took courage,” notes the chronicler, recalling both the decision of Solomon (2 Ch 1:1) and that of Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 17:1) at the beginning of their reigns. The priest gathers all in the temple and presents Joash to all so that he may be acclaimed king of Judah. It is worth mentioning the general consensus to what is happening in the temple. To the new king, who was put under the protection of the Levites, the diadem and the covenant are presented. Then he is anointed. And as all the people are cheering. Athaliah enters and sees the king standing by his pillar at the centre of a great religious celebration, accompanied by music and singing. She tries to react by tearing her clothes as a sign of grief and by crying treason, but with no success. There is close collaboration between priests and laity at this time of the rebirth of the kingdom. Jehoiada, the priest, ordered that the queen not be killed inside the temple (David, for having shed the blood, could not build it) and that anyone who left the ranks to follow then be put to death. This is a public test of loyalty to the new regime. Athaliah is conducted outside the temple, between two wings that open to her and is executed outside, by the door of the royal palace. However the coronation of the young king Joash, by Jehoiada, the high priest, takes place within the ceremony of the renewal of the covenant. All, priests, king and people, with a solemn ritual, commit themselves to be the true people of God, thus restoring the authority of the Davidic kingship in Jerusalem. The immediate consequence of the covenant is the destruction of the temple of Baal and everything connected to it. The covenant between God and his people is exclusive: a relationship with alternative gods is not possible. In this context also the reorganization of the temple is mentioned: everything must be treated with the strict respect due to the absolute primacy of God to whom only should trust and prayer be addressed. The restoration of the sovereignty of God through the covenant but also with the regulation of worship, ends in the joy of the whole people gathered: “So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet” (v. 21). There is a sense of peace, prosperity and unity that comes from removing the evil influence of idolatry in the lives of the people who finally find their king again as well as the priests who have re-ordered the worship of God in the temple.


11/13/2012
Memory of the Mother of the Lord


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