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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of St. Wenceslaus, venerated as a martyr in Bohemia.
Memory of William Quijano, young Salvadorian man of eth Community of Sant’Egidio, killed by the violence of the maras.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 40, 7; 41,1-18

When the military leaders who with their men were still in the field, all heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor of the country, making him responsible for the men, women and children, and those of the poor country people who had not been deported to Babylon,

In the seventh month, however, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, who was of royal descent, came with officers of the king and ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. And as they were taking their meal together, there at Mizpah,

Ishmael son of Nethaniah stood up with his ten men, and attacking Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with their swords, they killed the man whom the king of Babylon had made governor of the country.

And all the Judaeans who were with him, that is with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldaean soldiers who happened to be there, Ishmael killed too.

On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before the news had become known,

eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved off, their clothing torn, and covered in self-inflicted gashes; they were bringing cereal offerings and incense with them to present to the Temple of Yahweh.

Ishmael son of Nethaniah went out of Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he met them he said, 'Come to Gedaliah son of Ahikam.'

But once they were well inside the town, Ishmael son of Nethaniah slaughtered them, with the help of his men, and had them thrown into the storage-well.

There were ten of them, however, who said to Ishmael, 'Do not kill us: we have stocks of wheat and barley, oil and honey, hidden away in the fields.' So he spared them and did not kill them with their brothers.

The storage-well into which Ishmael threw the corpses of all the men he had killed was a large one, the one which King Asa had built as a precaution against Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with the slaughtered men.

Ishmael then took all the rest of the people prisoner who were at Mizpah, the king's daughters and all the remaining people in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan, commander of the guard, had entrusted to Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took them prisoner and set out, intending to cross over to the Ammonites.

When Johanan son of Kareah and all the military leaders who were with him heard about all the crimes committed by Ishmael son of Nethaniah,

they mustered all their men and set out to attack Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They caught up with him at the great Pool of Gibeon.

At the sight of Johanan son of Kareah and all the military leaders with him, all the people with Ishmael were delighted.

All the people whom Ishmael had taken as prisoners from Mizpah turned about, went back and joined Johanan son of Kareah.

Ishmael son of Nethaniah, however, escaped from Johanan with eight of his men and fled to the Ammonites.

Johanan son of Kareah and all the military leaders with him then rallied all the remaining people whom Ishmael son of Nethaniah had taken as prisoners from Mizpah after killing Gedaliah son of Ahikam: men -- fighting men-women, children and eunuchs, whom they brought back from Gibeon.

Setting off, they made a halt at Khan Kimham near Bethlehem, intending to go on to Egypt,

to get away from the Chaldaeans. They were now terrified of them, since Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam whom the king of Babylon had made governor of the country.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We are in a crucial moment in the situation in Jerusalem. Many do not accept the existing situation, specifically the choice of Babylonians who imposed Gedaliah as king subjected to them. The lack of independence burns on them, but according to Jeremiah it is not the most important thing at the moment. Therefore many struggles between groups, proposing different solutions to the existing situation, blow up. Someone would want to rise against the foreign domain, while others would accept the situation that seems to guarantee the free worship of their faith and a certain autonomy. The opponent’s party, lead by Ishmael, eliminates king Gedaliah together with his loyal allies. Always violence and cruelty prevail when someone wants to strongly impose one’s point of view. The same happens today in many situations of conflict, where it seems almost impossible to lead adversaries to a wise dialogue and discussion, which could lead to shared solutions. Indeed dialogue seems impossible when we think of being right and we do not accept questioning our convictions. So another group, led by Johanan, son of Kareah, forces the murder of the king to flee, while the king’s loyal followers pass to Johanan side, who flees to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians. Jeremiah himself will be forced to follow this group, as told in the following chapter. But this choice, motivated by fear, is the consequence of the refusal of listening to the Word of God: “…And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they arrived at Tahpanhes” (43:7). Jeremiah is forced onto the path of salvation and liberation on which Israel also travelled toward the Promised Land, but Jeremiah travels backward. He appears as the anti-Moses, the prophet who is not heard, but who shares the condition of his people until the end.

Sunday Vigil