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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

Judges 13, 2-7.24-25

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren; she had borne no children.

The Angel of Yahweh appeared to this woman and said to her, 'You are barren and have had no child, but you are going to conceive and give birth to a son.

From now on, take great care. Drink no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean.

For you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy is to be God's nazirite from his mother's womb; and he will start rescuing Israel from the power of the Philistines.'

The woman then went and told her husband, 'A man of God has just come to me, who looked like the Angel of God, so majestic was he. I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name.

But he said to me, "You are going to conceive and will give birth to a son. From now on, drink no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy is to be God's nazirite from his mother's womb to his dying day." '

The woman gave birth to a son and called him Samson. The child grew, and Yahweh blessed him;

and the spirit of Yahweh began to stir him in the Camp of Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The story of Samson begins in chapter 13 of the Book of Judges. It follows the story of Jephthah and the brief references to other judges, called “minor” because little information is given about them; they could be considered simple officials who administer justice. With the story of Samson, the Philistines enter the scene, that is, the Palestinians (as the linguistic root of both words indicates), who will be present until the beginning of the monarchy. The birth of Samson is foretold by two annunciations, as if to underline how the Lord chose him even before he was born. This sets him apart from all the other Judges in the book. In this sense Samson is unique. His mother is infertile, and, with her husband, calls on God to intervene. An angel of the Lord appears to the woman and announces the birth of a son. And he tells her that her son will free Israel. Consequently, he must be consecrated to God, that is a “Nazirite.” The book of Numbers (chap. 6) describes the duties of a Nazirite: abstaining from wine, probably considered a symbol of the Canaanite religion, abstaining from touching dead bodies, not marrying foreign women, and not cutting his or her hair. This consecration, which could be temporary, was permanent in Samson's case. Samson's mother also keeps the Nazirite rules and thus obtains the consecration of her son. The prayer of the two parents is heard. But the child who is born is not just for them. Samson is born to save the entire people, as if to anticipate the story of Jesus himself. But Samson's story is different. Once Samson has grown, God blesses him and shows him his spirit. Samson knows his mission and has everything he needs to achieve it, but - as is told in the following chapters - he strays from it. He strays by breaking the Nazirite promise to serve God. Samson begins to serve himself and his personal desires: not only does not abstain from wine, he drinks immoderately at banquets. Not only does he not abstain from touching dead bodies, he contaminates himself by eating honey that has come into contact with one. And he repeatedly has relations with pagan women. What is more, he boasts of his strength as if it were his own and not a gift given to him by God to use in service of his people. In short, Samson has a heart so full of himself that he does not leave any space at all for God. It is a story that we all know well. Every time we focus on ourselves - which is what we read about Samson - we distance ourselves from God and from his people, and so we distance ourselves from our salvation.

Memory of Jesus crucified