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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

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 16, 1-21

The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows:

'You are not to marry or have sons and daughters in this place.

For Yahweh says this regarding the sons and daughters to be born in this place, about the mothers who give birth to them, and about the fathers who beget them in this land,

"They will die of deadly diseases, unlamented and unburied; they will be like dung spread on the ground; they will meet their end by sword and famine, and their corpses will be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of earth."

'Yes, Yahweh says this, "Go into no house where there is mourning, do not go and lament or grieve with them; for I have withdrawn my peace from this people, Yahweh declares, and faithful love and pity too.

High or low, they will die in this country, without burial or lament; there will be no gashing, no shaving of the head for them.

No bread will be broken for the mourner to comfort him for the dead; no cup of consolation will be offered him for his father or his mother.

"And do not enter a house where there is feasting, to sit with them and eat and drink.

For Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: In this place, before your eyes, in your own days, I will silence the shouts of rejoicing and mirth and the voices of bridegroom and bride.

"When you tell these people this and they ask you: Why has Yahweh decreed such complete and total disaster for us? What have we done wrong? What sin have we committed against Yahweh our God?

then you are to answer: It is because your ancestors abandoned me, Yahweh declares, and followed other gods, and served and worshipped them. They abandoned me and did not keep my Law.

And you for your part have behaved even worse than your ancestors. Look, each of you follows his own stubborn and wicked inclinations, without listening to me.

And so, I shall eject you from this country into a country unknown to you or to your ancestors, and there you can serve other gods, day and night, for I shall show you no more favour."

'Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when people will no longer say, "As Yahweh lives who brought the Israelites out of Egypt!"

but, "As Yahweh lives who brought the Israelites back from the land of the north and all the countries to which he had driven them." I shall bring them back to the very soil I gave their ancestors.'

'Watch, I shall send for many fishermen, Yahweh declares, and these will fish them up; next, I shall send for many huntsmen, and these will hunt them out of every mountain, every hill, and out of the holes in the rocks.

For my eyes watch all their ways, these are not hidden from me, and their guilt does not escape my gaze.

I shall requite their guilt and their sin twice over, since they have polluted my country with the carcases of their Horrors, and filled my heritage with their Abominations.'

Yahweh, my strength, my stronghold, my refuge in time of distress! To you the nations will come from the remotest parts of the earth and say, 'Our fathers inherited nothing but Delusion, Futility of no use whatever.

Can human beings make their own gods? These are not gods at all!'

'Now listen, I will make them acknowledge, this time I will make them acknowledge my hand and my might; and then they will know that Yahweh is my name.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah’s words almost seem contradictory: at first he speaks of doom, and then he announces God’s saving intervention. Above all, however, the prophet is invited not to participate in the times of mourning and celebration of his people. The life of the prophet can not conform to the common mentality and habits of the people. He knows that, above all else, he has to listen to the Word of God. Indeed, the heart of Israel’s religion is still tied to listening to the Lord and obeying the words they hear. When Israel asks, “‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ Then you shall say to them: you have behaved worse than your ancestors, for here you are, every one of you, following your stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.” The Lord, however, does not accept his people’s hardness of heart; he does not abandon them to their will to rebel and sin. With the warnings of a good but strict father, the Lord threatens Israel because he hopes that they will recognize their sin and their need to be saved. This awareness is an essential characteristic of every believer: we cannot obtain salvation without a profound sense of humility, that is, without recognizing our sin and hence our need to be forgiven. We often live with the conviction that we are right. In reality, we are just following ourselves, convinced that we are on the side of reason. And so we effectively choose not to listen to God or anyone else. But nothing will continue as before. God will intervene and change the course of history. The prophet writes, “Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt’, but ‘As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.’” It is the new profession of faith of people who recognize the presence of God, who comes to gather them from the exile caused by their exaggerated individualism and bring them to a land where they will learn to live together. God, we could say, will force his people to return to Him and make them feel like his people. He will send out hunters and fishermen to bring his scattered children into the land of the promise. Thus, in the end we can only conclude with a recognition of the work of God: “O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge on the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends” to recognize our sin and God’s presence.

Memory of the Poor