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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

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 34, 14-33

While bringing out the money contributed to the Temple of Yahweh, the priest Hilkiah found the book of the Law of Yahweh given through Moses.

Hilkiah then said to Shaphan the secretary, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the Temple of Yahweh.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.

Shaphan took the book to the king, reporting furthermore to him as follows, 'Your servants have done everything entrusted to them.

They have melted down the silver which was in the Temple of Yahweh and have handed it over to the supervisors and the masters of works.'

Shaphan the secretary also informed the king, 'The priest Hilkiah has given me a book'; and Shaphan read extracts from it in the king's presence.

On hearing the words of the Law, the king tore his clothes.

Then the king gave the following order to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's minister,

'Go and consult Yahweh on behalf of me and of those left in Israel and Judah about the words of the book that has been discovered: for Yahweh's furious wrath has been pouring down on us because our ancestors did not obey the word of Yahweh by doing what this book says they ought to have done.'

Hilkiah and those whom the king had designated went to the prophetess Huldah wife of Shallum, son of Tokhath, son of Hasrah, the keeper of the wardrobe; she lived in Jerusalem in the new town. They spoke to her about this,

and she replied, 'Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, "To the man who sent you to me reply:

Yahweh says this: I am going to bring disaster on this place and the people who live in it -- all the curses set down in the book read in the king of Judah's presence.

Because they have abandoned me and burnt incense to other gods, so as to provoke my anger by their every action, my wrath is about to be poured down on this place, and nothing can stop it.

As for the king of Judah who sent you to consult Yahweh, say this to him: Yahweh, God of Israel, says this: The words you have heard . . .

But since your heart has been touched and you have humbled yourself before God on hearing what he has decreed against this place and the people who live in it, have torn your clothes and wept before me, I too have heard"-Yahweh says this.

"Look, when I gather you to your ancestors, you will be gathered into your grave in peace; you will not live to see the great disaster that I am going to bring on this place and on the people who live in it." ' They took this answer to the king.

The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned,

and the king went up to the temple of Yahweh, with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, priests, Levites and all the people, high and low. In their hearing he read out the entire contents of the Book of the Covenant discovered in the Temple of Yahweh.

The king then, standing on the dais, bound himself by the covenant before Yahweh, to follow Yahweh, to keep his commandments, decrees and laws with all his heart and soul and to carry out the terms of the covenant as written in this book.

He made all those present in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge their allegiance to it. The citizens of Jerusalem took action in keeping with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors,

while Josiah removed all the abominations throughout the territories belonging to the Israelites and required all inhabitants of Israel to serve Yahweh their God; throughout his lifetime they did not deviate from following Yahweh, God of their ancestors.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

While work is being done in the temple to extract the money deposited there, the Book of the Law, handwritten by Moses, is discovered. This is the only event that distinguishes the reign of Josiah from that of all his predecessors and successors. In the East, the discovery of the Book symbolically means the renewal of life. The Chronicler supposes that Jewish kings know the law: their salvation or their ruin depends on the observance of what the law contains. What then does the discovery of the Book mean? It is not the mere discovery of a volume. The Chronicler wants to emphasize the importance of the interpretation of the Book given by the prophetess. She warns Josiah to understand what has happened so far in the story of the people of Israel and its kings. This is why the Book was found. True renewal is not in material changes, though important, but in a more prompt and attentive listening to the Lord. The Book of the Law condemns Israel, even now that the work of cleansing and renovating is finished. Josiah is surprised, gets discouraged, cries and tears his clothes. Actually listening to the words of the law has opened the eyes of the king to the chain of transgressions made in the past that still weigh on the community. The reference to the ancestors is not done to imply his personal innocence. The king does not disassociate himself from past history, on the contrary, he binds himself to the long tradition of a course of sin whose effects are clear as he reads the words written in the Book. It is the attitude of a humble believer who feels the urgency to listen to the preaching of the prophetess: “For the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us is great, because our ancestors did not keep the word of the Lord, to act in accordance with all that is written in this book” (v. 21). By consulting the prophetess Huldah, Josiah did not seek to have the validity of the Book confirmed - he was convinced of its validity - but to ask her to intercede before the Lord for himself, for the rest of Israel and Judah. In replying, the prophetess Huldah confirms the contents of the Book, which announces the judgment over Jerusalem, including its inhabitants and the temple. But she adds that the Lord blesses the king who humbles himself upon hearing the words of the curse. Therefore, God's wrath will be fulfilled only after his death. The humility of Josiah, who tears his clothes and cries, is a suggestion for all believers to take charge of the past, feel the responsibility for the present and also bear in mind the future of the community. The king gathers the elders of Judah and Jerusalem, the priests and Levites and all the people, and to all he reads the “Book of the Covenant.” The Covenant with the Lord is inviolable. The alliance between God and Israel is not ending, not because of the loyalty of Israel but because of God's boundless mercy. However, Israel must renew their commitments and implement them. The immediate effect of reading the “Book of the Covenant” was that Josiah first and then all the people relied on the Word of God (vv. 31-32). The word had reunited Israel.


11/28/2012
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets


Calendar of the week
DEC
4
Sunday, 4 December
Liturgy of the Sunday
DEC
5
Monday, 5 December
Prayer for the Sick
DEC
6
Tuesday, 6 December
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
DEC
7
Wednesday, 7 December
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
DEC
8
Thursday, 8 December
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
DEC
9
Friday, 9 December
Memory of Jesus crucified
DEC
10
Saturday, 10 December
Sunday Vigil
DEC
11
Sunday, 11 December
Liturgy of the Sunday

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