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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 10, 1-16

Listen, House of Israel, to the word that Yahweh addresses to you. Yahweh says this:

'Do not learn the ways of the nations or take alarm at the heavenly signs, alarmed though the nations may be at them.

Yes, the customs of the peoples are quite futile: wood, nothing more, cut out of a forest, worked with a blade by a carver's hand,

then embellished with silver and gold, then fastened with hammer and nails to keep it from moving.

Like scarecrows in a melon patch, they cannot talk, they have to be carried, since they cannot walk. Have no fear of them: they can do no harm -- nor any good either!'

Yahweh, there is no one like you, so great you are, so great your mighty name.

Who would not revere you, King of nations? Yes, this is your due. Since of all the wise among the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is not a single one like you.

All of them are brutish and stupid: the Futile Ones' teaching is but wood,

silver leaf imported from Tarshish and gold from Ophir, the work of carver or goldsmith; then dressed up in violet and purple, all the work of skilled men.

But Yahweh is the true God. He is the living God, the everlasting King. The earth quakes when he is wrathful, the nations cannot endure his fury.

'Tell them this, "The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth will vanish from the earth and from under these heavens." '

By his power he made the earth, by his wisdom set the world firm, but his discernment spread out the heavens.

When he thunders there is a roaring of waters in heaven; he raises clouds from the remotest parts of the earth, makes the lightning flash for the downpour, and brings the wind from his storehouse.

At this all people stand stupefied, uncomprehending, every goldsmith blushes for his idols; his castings are but delusion, with no breath in them.

They are futile, a laughable production; when the time comes for them to be punished, they will vanish.

The Heritage of Jacob is not like these, for he is the maker of everything, and Israel is the tribe that is his heritage. His name is Yahweh Sabaoth.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Israel lived in the midst of polytheistic peoples, each with its own gods. Israel was often tempted to trust in these idols because they seemed to provide security. It was not easy for the prophets to counter this constant temptation. For example, on several occasions Isaiah (40:12-31) contrasts the grandeur and strength of the God of Israel with the vanity of the idols of the neighbouring peoples. Referring to idols, Psalm 115 states explicitly, “They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; they make no sound in their throats.” We can almost hear the irony with which the prophet Elijah urged the prophets of Baal, a Canaanite god, to shout more loudly so that their god would wake up and hear them (1 K 18:27-28). Idolatry, that is, entrusting our lives to things that do not count, is, in fact, still a temptation today, one which often ensnares not just a few Christians. The “vain idols” offer easy answers to our needs, but in reality they only create dependency and fear. The prophet is right: they seem to offer security in the midst of uncertainty and difficulty, but in reality they only lead to fear. “Do not be afraid of them,” the prophet says to us, too, “for they cannot do evil, nor is it in them to do good.” They are frauds! The believer entrusts him or herself to the Lord and listens to his word, and so lives in the liberty of the children of God. The Lord is our strength and our only salvation. He is the only one who can free us from fear. Indeed, he formed the earth and is the creator who sustains the world and guides his people and his inheritance. We do not need to be afraid, and we do not need to try to free ourselves from fear by committing ourselves to strange powers. Our God, who revealed himself in Jesus, has the power to heal and save. Let us entrust ourselves to him alone, and we shall be saved.

Sunday Vigil