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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 3, 12-25

So go and shout words towards the north, and say: "Come back, disloyal Israel, Yahweh declares, I shall frown on you no more, since I am merciful, Yahweh declares. I shall not keep my anger for ever.

Only acknowledge your guilt: how you have rebelled against Yahweh your God, how you have prostituted yourself with the Strangers under every green tree and have not listened to my voice, Yahweh declares.

"Come back, disloyal children, Yahweh declares, for I alone am your Master, and I will take you, one from a town, two from a family, and bring you to Zion.

I shall give you shepherds after my own heart, who will pasture you wisely and discreetly.

Then, when you have increased and grown numerous in the country, Yahweh declares, no one will ever again say: The ark of the covenant of Yahweh! It will not enter their minds, they will not remember it or miss it, nor will another one be made.

When that time comes, Jerusalem will be called: The Throne of Yahweh, and all the nations will converge on her, on Yahweh's name, on Jerusalem, and will no longer follow their own stubborn and wicked inclinations.

"When those days come, the House of Judah will join the House of Israel; together they will come from the land of the north to the country I gave your ancestors as their heritage."

'And I was thinking: How am I to rank you as my children? I shall give you a country of delights, the fairest heritage of all the nations! I thought: You will call me Father and will never cease to follow me.

But like a woman betraying her lover, House of Israel, you have betrayed me,' Yahweh declares.

A noise is heard on the bare heights: the weeping and entreaty of the Israelites, for they have gone wildly astray, have forgotten Yahweh their God.

'Come back, disloyal sons, I want to cure your disloyalty.' 'We are here, we are coming to you, for you are Yahweh our God.

The hills are a delusion after all, so is the tumult of the mountains. Yahweh our God is, after all, the saving of Israel.

Shame has devoured what our ancestors worked for ever since we were young, their flocks and herds, their sons and their daughters.

Let us lie down in our shame, let our confusion cover us, for we have sinned against Yahweh our God, we and our ancestors, from our youth until today, and have not listened to the voice of Yahweh our God.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord never stops inviting his people to return to Him. His anger does not last, but his merciful face remains for ever: “I am merciful, says the Lord; I will not be angry for ever.” However, the people of Israel must recognize their sin: “Only acknowledge your guilt, that you have rebelled against the Lord your God.” This passage keeps coming back to Israel’s unfaithfulness. How tiring it is to be faithful! Amid the uncertainty of our time and the future, it is easier to give into the temptation to follow ourselves and become lost. The Lord, who is great and merciful, intervenes by raising up a small remnant (“I will take you, one from a city and two from a family”) to serve as hope for all. Through a small group of believers, led by shepherds who follow his heart, God will begin a new story, a new covenant. The prophet is speaking these words in the period after the Babylonian exile. Jerusalem, which still bears the scars of its destruction, is steeped in pessimism. But God is willing to do anything to win over the people of Israel and make of them a people who will proclaim his salvation to the entire world. The prophetic word shakes the people out of their sad lives and opens them to an unexpected future: the restoration of the unity between Judah and Israel, while the world around them is still torn apart by war. Reunified, Jerusalem becomes the city of peace and the longed-for goal of all people. It will be a sign of unity for divided people and a sign of peace in a world marked by violence. There is extraordinary love in the words God speaks to his people: “I thought how I would set you among my children, and give you a pleasant land.” Once again, the prophet compares God’s love with Israel’s unfaithfulness. What can the Lord do with these “faithless children”, who are unable to make a decision because they are caught up in themselves? He can only invite us to return while at the same time reassuring us of his fatherly love, waiting for us to choose life with him, not a life hemmed in by the narrow fences of our habits and our individualism.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord