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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 2, 21-37

Yet I had planted you, a red vine of completely sound stock. How is it you have turned into seedlings of a vine that is alien to me?

Even though you scrub yourself with soda and put in quantities of soap, the stain of your guilt would still be visible to me, the Lord Yahweh declares.

How dare you say, "I am not defiled, I have not run after the Baals?" Look at your behaviour in the Valley, realise what you have done.

A wild she-donkey, at home in the desert, snuffing the breeze in desire; who can control her when she is on heat? Males need not trouble to look for her, they will find her in her month.

Beware! Your own foot will go unshod, your own throat grow dry! But you said, "It is no use! No! For I love the Strangers and they are the ones I shall follow."

'Like a thief ashamed at being caught, so will the House of Israel be: they, their kings, their chief men, their priests and their prophets,

who say to a piece of wood, "You are my father," and to a stone, "You gave birth to me." For they turn to me their backs, never their faces; yet when trouble comes they shout, "Get up! Save us!"

Where are your gods you made for yourself? Let them get up if they can save you when trouble comes! For you have as many gods as you have towns, Judah!

Why make out a case against me? You have all rebelled against me, Yahweh declares.

In vain I have struck your children, they have not accepted correction; your own sword has devoured your prophets like a marauding lion.

Now you of this generation, listen to what Yahweh says: Have I been a desert for Israel, or a land of gloom? Why do my people say, "We are our own masters, we will come to you no more"?

Does a girl forget her ornaments, a bride her sash? And yet my people have forgotten me, days beyond number.

'How well you set your course in pursuit of love! And so you have schooled your ways to wicked deeds.

The very skirts of your robe are stained with the blood of the poor, of innocent men you never caught breaking and entering! And in spite of all this,

you say, "I am innocent, let his anger turn from me!" Now I pass sentence on you for saying, "I have not sinned."

'How frivolously you undertake a change of course! But you will be disappointed by Egypt just as you were by Assyria.

You will have to leave there too with your hands on your head, for Yahweh has rejected those that you rely on, you will come to no good with them.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Isaiah had already compared Israel to a vineyard chosen by God, cared for and helped to grow by his love (Isaiah 5). In the Gospels Jesus will return to this image to describe God’s patient love for humanity, as well as the misunderstanding and even violence of men and women, who are bothered by so much love and dominated by their thirst for possession (Mk 12:1-12). A great deal of affection can be seen in this image, which clearly describes how much God values us. Yes, the Lord has taken care of Israel and of each one of us, members of the people Jesus has gathered. The vineyard was a symbol of the prosperity and fertility of the earth but also of Israel’s call. The prophet’s words come across as harsh and difficult in this passage: he is accusing his people of having twisted the Lord’s call. Israel’s sin is so great that it is doubtful they can ever convert. The accusation is clear and repeated: Israel has followed the Baals, the gods of the people of Canaan. They were not ashamed of what they had done; they did not turn back; they turned their backs on God and did not listen to his word. This repeated choice only produced violence and misfortune without gaining any advantage. In this passage echo the words of the wise men of Israel concerning the utter vanity of idolatry (Wis 13; Ps 115). Nonetheless, even when we are far from God, we can turn back to him and call out, “Come and save us.” Just as the son who had left his father’s house because of his prideful desire to look after himself recognized his need and went back home (Lk 15:11-32), so anyone who has turned away from God, no matter how or how often, can go back to him and receive forgiveness and salvation. God always hears the prayers of those who return to him; indeed, he is the one who urges us to come back, questioning us about our choices, just as he questioned his people: “And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord! Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come to you no more’?” There is no true freedom without the Lord, without his word that gives us life.

Sunday Vigil