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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 36, 1-32

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh,

'Take a scroll and on it write all the words I have spoken to you about Israel, Judah and all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, in the time of Josiah, until today.

Perhaps when the House of Judah hears about all the disaster I intend to inflict on them, they will turn, each one of then, from their evil behaviour, so that I can forgive their sinful guilt.'

Jeremiah then summoned Baruch son of Neriah, who at his dictation wrote down on the scroll all the words Yahweh had spoken to him.

Jeremiah then gave Baruch this order, 'As I am prevented from entering the Temple of Yahweh,

you yourself must go and, from the scroll you wrote at my dictation, read all Yahweh's words to the people in his Temple on the day of the fast, and in this way you can read them in the hearing also of all the Judaeans who come in from their towns.

Perhaps their prayers will move Yahweh and they will turn one and all from their evil behaviour, for great is the furious anger with which Yahweh has threatened this people.'

Baruch son of Neriah duly carried out the order that the prophet Jeremiah had given him, to read all Yahweh's words from the book in his Temple.

Now, in the fifth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people of Jerusalem and all the people who could get to Jerusalem from the towns of Judah were summoned to a fast before Yahweh.

Baruch then read Jeremiah's words from the book; this happened in the room of Gemariah son of the scribe Shaphan, in the upper court at the entry of the New Gate of the Temple of Yahweh, where all the people could hear.

Micaiah son of Gemariah, son of Shaphan, having heard all Yahweh's words read from the book,

went down to the royal palace, to the scribe's room. All the chief men were in session: the scribe Elishama, Delaiah son of Shemaiah, Elnathan son of Achbor, Gemariah son of Shaphan, Zedekiah son of Hananiah and all the other chief men;

and to them Micaiah reported all the words he heard as Baruch was reading the book aloud to the people.

The chief men then by common consent sent Jehudi son of Netaniah to Baruch, with Shelemiah son of Cushi, to say, 'Come, and bring the scroll with you which you have been reading to the people.'

Bringing the scroll with him, Baruch son of Neriah appeared before them. 'Sit down,' they said, 'and read it out.' So Baruch read it to them.

Having heard all the words they turned to one another in alarm and said to Baruch, 'We must certainly inform the king of this.'

They then questioned Baruch, 'Tell us', they said, 'how you came to write all these words.'

'Jeremiah dictated them all to me,' Baruch replied, 'and I wrote them down in ink in this book.'

The chief men said to Baruch, 'You and Jeremiah had better go into hiding; and do not tell anyone where you are.'

Whereupon they went off to the king in the palace court, depositing the scroll in the room of the scribe Elishama. They then informed the king of the whole affair.

The king sent Jehudi for the scroll, and he brought it from the room of the scribe Elishama and read it to the king and all the chief men standing round the king.

The king was sitting in his winter apartments -- it was the ninth month -- with a fire burning in a brazier in front of him.

Each time Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut them off with a scribe's knife and threw them into the fire in the brazier until the whole of the scroll had been burnt in the brazier fire.

But in spite of hearing all these words, neither the king nor any of his courtiers took alarm or tore their clothes;

and although Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had urged the king not to burn the scroll he would not listen to them,

but ordered the king's son Jerahmeel and Seraiah son of Azriel and Shelemiah son of Abdeel to arrest the scribe Baruch and the prophet Jeremiah. But Yahweh had hidden them.

Then the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, after the king had burnt the scroll containing the words Baruch had written at Jeremiah's dictation,

'Take another scroll and write down all the words that were written on the first scroll burnt by Jehoiakim king of Judah.

And as regards Jehoiakim king of Judah, you are to say, "Yahweh says this: You have burnt that scroll, saying: Why have you written down: The king of Babylon will certainly come and lay this country waste and leave it without human or animal?

So, this is what Yahweh says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to occupy the throne of David, and his corpse will be tossed out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.

I shall punish him, his offspring and his courtiers for their guilt; on them, on the citizens of Jerusalem and on the people of Judah I shall bring the total disaster which I had decreed for them but to which they have paid no attention."

Jeremiah then took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, who in it at Jeremiah's dictation wrote all the words of the book that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burnt, with many similar words in addition.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The oracles that Jeremiah addresses to the people, the ones he received from the Lord, cannot be dismissed. The Word of God is preciousness; it must be preserved and guarded with devotion and veneration: its sacredness comes from the Spirit who inspired it and through which it has been received and written down. Therefore, it is not strange that the prophet received the divine order to write everything that has been communicated to him. All the oracles addressed to Israel and all the nations are so powerful that, when read before all the people, they provoke feelings of conversion: “It may be that when the house of Judah hears all the disasters that I intended to do to them, all of them may turn back from their evil way, so that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin” (v. 3). Until the end the Lord trusts that the people understand they have to change, so whoever listens to His word will be saved from the disaster. There are two means that the Lord proposes through which people may reach conversion: humiliation and prayer. The Lord makes the latter attempt with His rebellious and stubborn people, and says, “It may be that their plea will come before the Lord” (v. 7). It is all about defeating the fiercest enemy of the spiritual person: pride and distance from God. They are responsible for the draught of the heart and the dismay of life. However, as in the story of the liberation of slaves who were then taken back from their owners (Jer 34), here as well, the strength of evil is quite strong. The king Jehoiakim, a man of worldly feelings, superb and unscrupulous, burns the scroll with all the divine oracles that Jeremiah gave him. The majority of his ministers accept being accomplices to evil. Only three oppose what the king does. However, never will the Word be stopped, and a new scroll will replace the one burned by Jehoiakim.

Memory of the Poor