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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

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 9, 1-15

Who will find me a wayfarer's shelter in the desert, for me to quit my people, and leave them far behind? For all of them are adulterers, a conspiracy of traitors.

They bend their tongues like a bow; not truth but falsehood holds sway in the land; yes, they go from crime to crime, but me they do not know, Yahweh declares.

Let each be on his guard against his friend; do not trust a brother, for every brother aims but to supplant, and every friend is a peddler of slander.

Each one cheats his friend, never telling the truth; they have trained their tongues to lie and devote all their energies to doing wrong.

You live in a world of bad faith! Out of bad faith, they refuse to know me, Yahweh declares.

And, so, Yahweh Sabaoth declares, now I shall purge them and test them, no other way to treat the daughter of my people!

Their tongue is a deadly arrow, their words are in bad faith; with his mouth each wishes his neighbour peace, while in his heart plotting a trap for him.

Shall I fail to punish them for this, Yahweh demands, or on such a nation fail to exact vengeance?

I raise the wail and lament for the mountains, the dirge for the desert pastures, for they have been burnt: no one passes there, the sound of flocks is heard no more. Birds of the sky and animals, all have fled, all are gone.

I shall make Jerusalem a heap of ruins, a lair for jackals, and the towns of Judah an uninhabited wasteland.

Who is wise enough to understand this? To whom has Yahweh's mouth spoken to explain it? Why is the country annihilated, burnt like the desert where no one passes?

Yahweh says, 'This is because they have forsaken my Law which I gave them and have not listened to my voice or followed it,

but have followed their own stubborn hearts, have followed the Baals as their ancestors taught them.'

So Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, 'Now I shall give this people wormwood to eat and poisoned water to drink.

I shall scatter them among nations unknown to their ancestors or to them; and I shall pursue them with the sword until I have annihilated them.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Even God himself looses patience and wants to leave because of his people’s unfaithfulness: “O that I had in the desert a traveller’s lodging-place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a band of traitors.” The Bible sometimes speaks of God as being hidden. He hides his face and can no longer be seen. The main reason why God does this is that his people are telling lies: “They bend their tongues like bows; they have grown strong in the land for falsehood, and not for truth...they have taught their tongues to speak lies...deceit upon deceit!” These words draw our attention to the use of the tongue, speaking, and sincerity of our words. In the Letter of James, the entire third chapter is dedicated to the use of the tongue, using harsh words to define it: “the tongue is a fire...a world of iniquity.” The words of Jeremiah are no different: Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit through the mouth.” The words we speak can do great evil, because, once said, they bite and are truly like fire or arrows. They can do good, but also great evil. Lies in particular cause great evil, and they habituate us to a double life, distorted and full of malevolence, even if covered with superficial goodness. But that is only trickery. “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’,” Jesus says. This is why God intervenes and purifies: “I will now refine and test them.” God refines and tests us so that we can purify our speaking and, by extension, our heart, and express sincerity and truth. The prophet returns to one of his favourite themes: Why is there so much devastation, and why does God seem so distant? “[They] have not obeyed my voice, or walked in accordance with it, but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals (the gods of the lands of Canaan), as their ancestors taught them.” We are brought back to the same point: if we do not listen, everything falls to ruin, and our words turn to lies, because they are not nourished by the word of God.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets