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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of the terrorist attacks in the United States. Memory of the victims of terrorism and violence and prayer for peace.

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 31, 1-14

When that time comes, Yahweh declares, I shall be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.

Yahweh says this: They have found pardon in the desert, those who have survived the sword. Israel is marching to his rest.

Yahweh has appeared to me from afar; I have loved you with an everlasting love and so I still maintain my faithful love for you.

I shall build you once more, yes, you will be rebuilt, Virgin of Israel! Once more in your best attire, and with your tambourines, you will go out dancing gaily.

Once more you will plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria (those who plant will themselves enjoy the fruit).

Yes, a day will come when the watchmen shout on the mountains of Ephraim, 'Up! Let us go up to Zion, to Yahweh our God!'

For Yahweh says this: Shout with joy for Jacob! Hail the chief of nations! Proclaim! Praise! Shout, 'Yahweh has saved his people, the remnant of Israel!'

Watch, I shall bring them back from the land of the north and gather them in from the far ends of the earth. With them, the blind and the lame, women with child, women in labour, all together: a mighty throng will return here!

In tears they will return, in prayer I shall lead them. I shall guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble. For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born son.

Listen, nations, to the word of Yahweh. On the farthest coasts and islands proclaim it, say, 'He who scattered Israel is gathering him, will guard him as a shepherd guarding his flock.'

For Yahweh has ransomed Jacob, rescued him from a hand stronger than his own.

They will come, shouting for joy on the heights of Zion, thronging towards Yahweh's lavish gifts, for wheat, new wine and oil, sheep and cattle; they will be like a well-watered garden, they will sorrow no more.

The young girl will then take pleasure in the dance, and young men and old alike; I shall change their mourning into gladness, comfort them, give them joy after their troubles;

I shall refresh my priests with rich food, and my people will gorge themselves on my lavish gifts, Yahweh declares.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The language of love is the best way to express the relationship of God with his people: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel!” God’s love for Israel is “everlasting,” eternal. It remains no matter what happens. We can find its beginning in the Exodus, when God, after having freed his people from the slavery of Egypt, established a covenant between himself and his people in the desert. Yes, the desert was witness to the affection with which God, the husband, took care of his wife. It was there that Israel learned to love the Lord, and the Lord sealed a pact of faithfulness with his people, a pact which was based on his “everlasting love” (v. 3). The prophet Hosea also uses the imagery of marriage and refers to God as the One who wants to restore his love for Israel to how it was at the beginning, and he chooses the place where this love blossomed: “I will now persuade her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her” (Hos 2:14). The desert is not a mythical place, but the place where love is built through toughness and dedication, where the believer comes to recognize the strength of passion and the necessity of being faithful to the Lord and his covenant. The desert becomes a road that leads towards a “house of peace” (v 2). But what can we compare to the desert today if not our cities, which are often devoid of life and love, just like a desert? It is here, in these modern deserts, that believers need to rediscover the covenant with the Lord. Here, in the heart of our cities, lies the crucible of love and passion, the dream that our cities might become places of serenity and peace for all. The path that leads from the desert to Jerusalem is not a different space; it is not a path that is foreign to human experience. The path runs through the city itself, through human society. We are called to transform our cities, which have become like deserts accustomed to violence and loneliness, into places of love and peace. So our cities will start becoming more like Jerusalem, understood as the “house of peace” where the Lord dwells, the holy mountain that shines and gives light to the earth. It is a path that leads upwards, away from the selfishness that constantly pulls us down. The prophetic oracle shows us the way that leads from the city-desert to the city of peace where drought has vanished and where the young and the old dance together in joy. It is a prophecy that foresees the Community of believers gathered around the Lord and participating in his plan of love for the world. With them are the poor and the sick, “the blind and the lame” (v. 8), women and children, all those who feel attracted to the Gospel of friendship and celebration. No one is left behind. The Lord says, “I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn” (v. 9).

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets