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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 24, 1-10

Yahweh gave me a vision: set out in front of the Temple of Yahweh were two baskets of figs. This was after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had led Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, away into exile from Jerusalem, with the chief men of Judah, the blacksmiths and metalworkers, and had taken them to Babylon.

One basket contained excellent figs, like those that ripen first; the other contained very bad figs, so bad they were uneatable.

Yahweh said to me, 'What do you see, Jeremiah?' 'Figs,' I answered, 'the good ones excellent, the bad ones very bad, so bad as to be uneatable.'

Then the word of Yahweh was addressed to me,

'Yahweh, the God of Israel, says this, "As these figs are good, so I mean to concern myself with the welfare of the exiles of Judah whom I have sent from this place to the country of the Chaldaeans.

My eyes will watch over them for their good, to bring them back to this country, to build them up and not to break them down, to plant them and not to uproot them.

I shall give them a heart to acknowledge that I am Yahweh. They will be my people and I shall be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

As for the bad figs, the figs so bad as to be uneatable-yes, Yahweh says this -- that is how I shall treat Zedekiah king of Judah, his chief men and what is left of Jerusalem, those who remain in this country and those living in Egypt.

I shall make them an object of horror, a disaster, to all the kingdoms of the earth, a thing of shame, a byword, a laughing-stock, a curse, wherever I shall drive them.

Sword, famine and plague I shall send against them until they have vanished from the soil I gave to them and to their ancestors." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

History is not a choice between good and evil, made according to human criteria. It is not like fruit, not like the two baskets of figs placed one next to the other: a basket full of sweet figs, like first-ripe figs, and the other full of fruit so bad it cannot be eaten. In order to recognize and identify the signs of the times we must understand the divine will, reading history as God reads and directs it. But appearances can be deceiving. After the first deportation to Babylon, it was easy to conclude that the exiles in the capital of the empire of Nebuchadnezzar were the worst sinners, those rejected by the Lord, the truly guilty ones. Instead, those who remained in Jerusalem, starting with King Zedekiah, felt they were in the right, because the Chaldean king had spared them from deportation. But history moves according to God’s plan and not according to human plans. And the Lord shows his preference for the poor and the afflicted, the persecuted and the imprisoned. Those who were deported to Babylon will have all the blessings, they will return home and will never be uprooted. But those who remained in the country, led by Zedekiah, will be driven out of the land and will never return. As Jesus says, “Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Mt 19: 30). Those who felt secure will not find rest, while the poor, the humble, and the least, will take the first places. The course of history depends on the Lord who leads it in a powerful way, never overbearing but always new. The important thing is to enter into the covenant of love that He offers to his people, founded on a heart that knows and recognizes him as the one Lord to whom our lives should be entrusted. Belonging to God is the source of happiness. Returning to God is the source of every beatitude. As we read in the same prophet Jeremiah: “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel... I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (31:33).

Sunday Vigil