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The Everyday Prayer

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

Feast of Mary of Mount Carmel.

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 6, 1-15

Flee in a body, Benjaminites, right away from Jerusalem! Sound the trumpet in Tekoa! Light the beacon on Beth-ha-Cherem! For disaster lowers from the north, an immense calamity.

Beautiful, delicate as she is, I shall destroy the daughter of Zion!

Shepherds are advancing on her with their flocks. They have pitched their tents all round her, each grazes his part.

Prepare for holy war against her! To arms! We shall attack at noon! Disaster for us! The light is fading, the evening shadows lengthen.

To arms! We shall attack at night and destroy her palaces.

For Yahweh Sabaoth says this, 'Cut down trees, throw up an earthwork outside Jerusalem: this is the city to be punished, with nothing but oppression in her.

As a well keeps its water fresh so she keeps her wickedness fresh. Violence and ruin are what you hear in her, wounds and blows always forced on my attention.

Reform, Jerusalem, or I shall turn my attention away from you and reduce you to a desert, a land without people.'

Yahweh Sabaoth says this, 'They will glean, glean what is left of Israel like a vine. Like a grape-picker, pass your hand again over the branches!'

To whom should I speak, whom warn, for them to hear? Look, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen. Look, for them Yahweh's word is something to sneer at, they have no taste for it.

So I am full of Yahweh's wrath, I am weary of holding it in. Then pour it on the children in the streets, and on the bands of youths as well, for husband and wife will both be taken, the greybeard and the man weighed down with years.

Their houses will pass to other men, so will their fields and wives. Yes, I shall stretch my hand over those living in this country, Yahweh declares.

For, from the least to greatest, they are all greedy for gain; prophet no less than priest, all of them practise fraud.

Without concern they dress my people's wound, saying, 'Peace! Peace!' whereas there is no peace.

They should be ashamed of their loathsome deeds. Not they! They feel no shame, they do not even know how to blush. And so as others fall, they too will fall, will be thrown down when I come and punish them, Yahweh says.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The prophet once again asks the people to turn back to God and abandon their sinful conduct. And he does so with insistence, because the Lord’s love is insistent, and he wants to save the people from the invading enemy, who is now close to Jerusalem. God, who sees far more clearly than people, begs the prophet not to stop talking or looking for people who will listen to him. It is on listening, in fact, that the conversion away from sin and the salvation of the city depend. This is why the Lord urges the prophet to have the patience of someone who is going through a vineyard after the harvest to glean what is left over. We cannot give in to evil or let ourselves be dismayed at the difficulty of communicating the Word of God. Christians are like the farmer whom the prophet tells not to stop gathering what is left: “Glean thoroughly as a vine the remnant of Israel; like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again over its branches.” We have not yet done everything that is necessary. In his encyclical, ‘Redemptoris Missio’, John Paul II, writes that “after two millennia of Christian history the Church’s mission is still only beginning.” Those who go to harvest do not know what they will find, but they do not leave anything untested. The Lord trusts that it is possible to find people who will listen to him. But there need to be people who will approach and savour the word of God, people who are willing to take on this task. Of course, the prophet is indignant at those men and women who have fallen prey to evil. The Word of God wakes people up from their sorrowful, resigned lives and it reaches the heart, not as a condemnation, but as a plea: “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear?” This plea of God is an invitation to savour his word and to communicate it without tiring, like the prophet who searched for everything that was left in the vineyard to bring it before the Lord. Doing this protects the world: it keeps evil from prevailing and destroying what God has built. Do not just say “peace, peace,” when there is no peace. It is urgent for us to listen to the word of God so that we may all become peacemakers.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord