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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of St. Sergii Radonezhsky of the Russian church. He founded the Lavra (monastery) of the Most Holy Trinity near Moscow. Memory of the evangelical pastor Paul Schneider who died in the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald on July 18, 1939.

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

Jeremiah 7, 1-15

The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying,

'Stand at the gate of the Temple of Yahweh and there proclaim this message. Say, "Listen to the word of Yahweh, all you of Judah who come in by these gates to worship Yahweh.

Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: Amend your behaviour and your actions and I will let you stay in this place.

Do not put your faith in delusive words, such as: This is Yahweh's sanctuary, Yahweh's sanctuary, Yahweh's sanctuary!

But if you really amend your behaviour and your actions, if you really treat one another fairly,

if you do not exploit the stranger, the orphan and the widow, if you do not shed innocent blood in this place and if you do not follow other gods, to your own ruin,

then I shall let you stay in this place, in the country I gave for ever to your ancestors of old.

Look, you are putting your faith in delusive, worthless words!

Steal, would you, murder, commit adultery, perjure yourselves, burn incense to Baal, follow other gods of whom you know nothing?-

and then come and stand before me in this Temple that bears my name, saying: Now we are safe to go on doing all these loathsome things!

Do you look on this Temple that bears my name as a den of bandits? I, at any rate, can see straight, Yahweh declares.

"Now go to the place which used to be mine at Shiloh, where I once gave my name a home; see what I have done to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel!

And now, since you have done all these things, Yahweh declares, and refused to listen when I spoke so urgently, so persistently, or to answer when I called you,

I shall treat this Temple that bears my name, and in which you put your heart, the place that I gave you and your ancestors, just as I treated Shiloh,

and I shall drive you out of my sight, as I did all your kinsfolk, the whole race of Ephraim."


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The temple of Jerusalem, built by King Solomon, had become the heart of the people’s relationship with God. It was the place of prayer and especially of sacrifice. In that holy space, the believer entered into communion with the Lord, thanked him for the blessings he or she had received, and received forgiveness from his or her sins. Jeremiah recalls an ancient truth of the faith of Israel that is constantly present in the prophets: the temple is not a place to carry out external rituals that do not correspond to the believer’s life. Starting with Isaiah (chapter 1), and then Hosea (6:1-6), and Amos (4:4-5), the prophets affirm that God is not pleased by sacrifices and prayers offered by people whose hands are stained with blood. Violence and injustice do not go together with spending time in the house of God. As Jesus will say, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). Communion with God, which is established in the temple, demands that we measure our lives by listening to his word and not our own. We run the risk of settling for a disincarnated faith that does not become life or love for our neighbours, a faith that does not fight for justice or change hearts and history. Devotions and prayers measured against themselves are not enough. The temple is a place of community, a place for the people of God. There we are not alone. The Christian faith, which has its roots in the faith of Israel, is not some private affair between God and an individual, in which other people have no role. This is why faith is sometimes abstract and does not touch our lives: it is a private affair that each one of us manages him or herself, without the comfort or correction of others. Speaking with the Lord’s voice, Jeremiah adds, “Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place.” This command comes true in the context of a life that is nourished by the Word of God, concerned with the poor (“do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow”), measured against the faith of others, and not devoted to idolatry. No one can be a disciple without putting the Lord’s commandments into practice and seeking with others to find the path of justice and love.

Memory of the Church