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The Everyday Prayer


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

Memory of the dedication of the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere where the Community of Sant’Egidio prays every day.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Chronicles 25, 1-28

Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he came to the throne and he reigned for twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem.

He did what Yahweh regards as right, though not wholeheartedly.

Once the kingdom was firmly under his control, he killed those of his retainers who had murdered the king his father.

But he did not put their sons to death; this was in accordance with what is written in the Law, in the book of Moses, where Yahweh had commanded, 'Parents may not be put to death for children, nor children for parents, but each must be put to death for his own crime.'

Amaziah summoned Judah and organised all Judah and Benjamin by families under commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. He also made a register of those who were twenty years old and upwards, and found there were three hundred thousand picked men, ready for service and capable of wielding spear and shield.

Furthermore, he hired a hundred thousand tough fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver.

A man of God then came to him and said, 'My lord king, do not let the Israelite troops march with you, for Yahweh is not with Israel or with any of the Ephraimites.

For however valiantly you act in war, God will bring you down before the enemy, for God has the power to uphold or to throw down.'

Amaziah said to the man of God, 'But what about the hundred talents which I have paid for the Israelite troops?' 'Yahweh can give you far more than that,' said the man of God.

At this, Amaziah dismissed the troops who had come to him from Ephraim and sent them home again. They were furious with Judah and went home in a great rage.

Amaziah then, coming to a decision, led out his own troops and, having reached the Valley of Salt, struck down ten thousand Seirites.

The men of Judah captured ten thousand more alive and, taking them to the summit of the Rock, threw them off the summit of the Rock so that they were all dashed to pieces.

Meanwhile, the troops whom Amaziah had dismissed and not allowed to go into battle with him rased the towns of Judah, from Samaria to Beth-Horon, killing three thousand of their inhabitants and capturing great quantities of plunder.

On returning from his slaughter of the Edomites, Amaziah brought the gods of the Seirites with him; he set these up as his gods, bowing down before them and burning incense to them.

Yahweh's anger was aroused by Amaziah and he sent him a prophet, who said to him, 'Why do you consult those people's gods when they could not save their own people from your clutches?'

He was still speaking when Amaziah interrupted him. 'Have we appointed you a royal counsellor? Stop, as you value your life!' So the prophet stopped, and then said, 'I know that God has decided to destroy you for having done this and for not listening to my advice.'

After consultation, Amaziah king of Judah then sent a message to Joash son of Jehoahaz son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, 'Come and make a trial of strength!'

Joash king of Israel sent back word to Amaziah king of Judah, 'The thistle of Lebanon sent a message to the cedar of Lebanon, saying, "Give my son your daughter in marriage"; but a wild animal of the Lebanon ran over the thistle and squashed it.

"Look at me, the conqueror of Edom," you say, and now aspire to even greater glory. But stay where you belong! Why challenge disaster, to your own and Judah's ruin?'

But Amaziah would not listen, for this was an act of God to deliver them up for having consulted the gods of Edom.

So Joash king of Israel marched to the attack. And at Beth-Shemesh, which belongs to Judah, he and Amaziah king of Judah made their trial of strength.

Judah was defeated by Israel, and everyone fled to his tent.

The king of Judah, Amaziah son of Joash, son of Ahaziah, was taken prisoner at Beth-Shemesh by Joash king of Israel who led him off to Jerusalem, where he demolished four hundred cubits of the city wall between the Ephraim Gate and the Corner Gate;

he then took back with him to Samaria all the gold and silver, and all the vessels to be found in the Temple of God in the care of Obed-Edom, the treasures in the palace, and hostages besides.

Amaziah son of Joash, king of Judah, lived for fifteen years after the death of Joash son of Jehoahaz, king of Israel.

The rest of the history of Amaziah, from first to last, is this not recorded in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel?

Some time after Amaziah had defected from Yahweh, a plot having been hatched against him in Jerusalem, he fled to Lachish where he was murdered.

He was then transported by horse and buried with his ancestors in the city of David.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Chronicler begins the story of the kingdom of Amaziah (796-767 BC) with a positive evaluation as well as with a problematic warning: “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not with a true heart” (v. 2). The text suggests that we should not take for granted loyalty to the Lord. There is a need for continuity and fidelity in listening and putting into practice what the Lord tells us. To confirm this belief, the author has shown, in previous chapters, that even a king who follows the law of God, as Joash had, can then dismiss it and refuse to listen to it. And whoever turns away from God will be judged harshly by history. At the beginning of his reign King Amaziah followed the requirements of the law. And this is acknowledged to his credit. Subsequently, however, he chose to ally with the tribes of the North, wishing to undertake a war against the Edomites. He took a census to check his power, but he did not thank God for what he had received; instead, he chose to rely on mercenaries from the North to strengthen his army. He did not consider the danger of an alliance with the army of Israel. The Lord sent a prophet (“a man of God”) to warn Amaziah not to make this alliance. The king listened to the advice of the prophet but pointed out that he had already paid mercenaries. Nevertheless he sent them back. At first sight this might seem to have been a weakness. Yet, this was not the case. By accepting his own weakness and relying only on God, the king could experience the true meaning of the name “Israel”: strong with God. In truth, this attitude is reiterated frequently in the pages of Scripture; believers are strong when they are weak, i.e. when they rely on God and not on their own forces. Of course, the mistake made in paying Northern mercenaries brought sad consequences, such as the massacres that resulted and caused the soldiers to retreat to the north. It is always important to discern and act with caution, because sins, even those related to poor management, have negative consequences. However, the same battle against the Edomites, won by the king, led him to disaster. He, as was customary in that time, took the idols worshiped by the Edomites and carried them with him. He thought to keep them, even to venerate them. Once again, the Lord sent the king a prophet who warned him of the error. Amaziah did not listen to the prophet and remained firm in his opinion; he even interrupted the prophet, warning him to be silent, on pain of death. It had happened to the prophet Zechariah, whom Amaziah's father, Joash, had had killed. The hardening of his heart led Amaziah to his downfall. He did not let the Word of God cross the threshold of his heart. And the Word departed from his life. The Chronicler then tells of the war against Joash, king of Israel. Once again, the more insidious sin for a king is shown: the lack of listening and discernment. Amaziah relies once again on the judgments of bad advisers, and rejects the counsel of the prophet. The pride and arrogance of power fog the mind of Amaziah. The Lord, indirectly, still helps and warns him with the parable of the thistle and the cedar. But Amaziah, slave of himself and of his reasons, is now able to listen only to himself. In the war he is taken prisoner, while the northern walls of Jerusalem are dismantled and the treasury of the temple looted. The heavy defeat shows the hard judgment of God on Amaziah. Even his people abandoned the king who ended up a victim of a palace plot.


11/15/2012
Memory of the Church


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