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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 37, 1-21

Zedekiah son of Josiah became king, succeeding Coniah son of Jehoiakim. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had made him king of Judah.

But neither he nor his courtiers nor the people of the country paid any attention to the words Yahweh spoke through the prophet Jeremiah.

King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to the prophet Jeremiah with this message, 'Intercede for us with Yahweh our God.'

Now Jeremiah was still moving freely among the people: he had not yet been put in prison.

Meanwhile Pharaoh's army was on the move from Egypt and the Chaldaeans besieging Jerusalem had raised the siege when they heard the news.

Then the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Jeremiah as follows,

'Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, "To the king of Judah who sent you to consult me make this reply: Is Pharaoh's army marching to your aid? It will withdraw to its own country, Egypt.

The Chaldaeans will return to attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.

Yahweh says this: Do not cheer yourselves up by thinking: The Chaldaeans are leaving us for good. They are not leaving.

Even if you cut to pieces the whole Chaldaean army now fighting against you until there were only the wounded left, they would stand up again, each man in his tent, to burn this city down." '

At the time when the Chaldaean army, threatened by Pharaoh's army, had raised the siege of Jerusalem,

Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem for the territory of Benjamin to see about a piece of his property among the people there.

He was at the Benjamin Gate when the guard commander there, a certain Irijah son of Shelemiah, son of Hananiah, arrested the prophet Jeremiah, shouting, 'You are deserting to the Chaldaeans!'

Jeremiah answered, 'It is a lie! I am not deserting to the Chaldaeans.' But Irijah would not listen to Jeremiah and took him under arrest to the chief men.

And the chief men, furious with Jeremiah, had him beaten and shut up in the house of the scribe Jonathan, which had been turned into a prison.

Thus Jeremiah found himself in an underground vault. And there for a long time he stayed.

Later, King Zedekiah had him sent for, and the king questioned him privately in his palace. 'Is there any word from Yahweh?' he asked. 'There is,' Jeremiah answered, and added, 'you will be handed over to the king of Babylon.'

Jeremiah then said to King Zedekiah, 'What wrong have I done you, or your courtiers or this people, for you to have put me in prison?

Where are your prophets now who prophesied, "The king of Babylon will not attack you or this country"?

So now I beg you to hear me, my lord king! I beg you to approve my request! Do not have me taken back to the house of the scribe Jonathan, or I shall die there.'

King Zedekiah then gave an order, and Jeremiah was confined in the Court of the Guard and given a loaf of bread a day from the Street of the Bakers as long as there was bread left in the city. So Jeremiah stayed in the Court of the Guard.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The prophet Jeremiah is in the grip of his enemies. He is falsely accused, beaten, thrown into prison and inhumanely treated. There is a passion of Jeremiah, which prefigures the one of the Lord Jesus. The attack against Him, which comes from the blind strength of evil and injustice, leaves him totally defenceless in the hands of his rivals; the same happened in the Gospels when Jesus is victim of the power of evil, which will lead him to death. Jeremiah is at the mercy of the enemies of good and truth. The free voice of the prophet, who was calling all the people to loyalty to the divine commandments, was unbearable for them. Their struggle against the prophet was indeed an opposition to God Himself who wanted to speak to His people. On his side, Jeremiah accepts persecution and tries to keep his message alive, counting on the strength of the Word of God that, as the Apostle Paul will say, is “…sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). We could say that the martyrdom of Jeremiah has a slow course: he does not offer his life by shedding blood once and for all. He accepts instead to keep being a servant of the Word, fully announcing it and accepting the consequences until the end. Jeremiah is not afraid of death; neither is he afraid of those who want to make him disappear. In the book of the Revelation, regarding the martyrs of the Lamb Jesus Christ who were accused and tested by the prince of evil, it is said, “But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death” (12:11). Jeremiah is one of them; he anticipated Jesus’ sufferings and shared with him death and triumph. The words of the First Letter of Saint Peter could be applied to him as well: They (the prophets of the First Testament) “inquiring about the person or time that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated, when it testified in advance to the sufferings destined for Christ and the subsequent glory” (1:11).

Memory of the Mother of the Lord