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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

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Genesis 2, 4-9.15-17

Such was the story of heaven and earth as they were created. At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven

there was as yet no wild bush on the earth nor had any wild plant yet sprung up, for Yahweh God had not sent rain on the earth, nor was there any man to till the soil.

Instead, water flowed out of the ground and watered all the surface of the soil.

Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living being.

Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden, which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned.

From the soil, Yahweh God caused to grow every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.

Then Yahweh God gave the man this command, 'You are free to eat of all the trees in the garden.

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat; for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

As if to reinforce the original link between human beings, creation and God, Sacred Scriptures give us a second account of Creation. The sacred author does not try to propose a scientific truth concerning the origins of the world or of the human species, but rather seeks to affirm the fact that life is holy because it is a work of God and belongs to Him. Every human being is called to honour, respect and defend life. Only God is the Lord of life. This page of Scripture puts God's concern for humanity at the centre of the creation story: he moulds him from the soil, blows life into him and puts him in the garden. Life comes from God, as we see through the “breath” that he blows into him. God entrusts man with cultivating the garden and keeping it in all of its beauty. God made man the steward of the Earth and of all creation and did not intend him to lord over it or, even worse, to disfigure it. How precious and predictive is this double task that God entrusts to human beings! Man needs first of all to “cultivate” creation. The word in Hebrew means “to serve” and also “to work”. Human beings are called to be in service to the garden, that is to the Earth in which he has been put. Human beings need to take care of it and cultivate it since it produces fruit and benefits the entire human family. They must be “stewards” of the Earth: we are not absolute masters of creation and we cannot bend it to our wishes. Our first task is not to dominate or own but indeed to “take care”, that is, to accompany the earth with attentive care and to treat it with love. The Garden of Eden is also associated with he Promised Land that God will give to his people. Only if Israel “serves and stewards” the land will it continue to be a gift from God, otherwise Israel risks losing it as it did at the time of the Babylonian exile. Indeed a tree lives in a garden; on one hand it marks a limit that humans should not cross, and on the other hand, it offers the possibility of friendship with God. The tree represents the human temptation of pride: to want to become like God and to be master of himself and of others. In truth, God is lord and all men and women are limited. Without this awareness people risk losing the garden and distancing themselves from the Lord. The Lord does not abandon us; it is we who decide to distance ourselves from him and try to take his place. By not obeying the Lord, we put our lives and that of the world at risk. Without a word that helps us decipher good from bad, we risk making ourselves absolute masters of our destiny. Believers know that by listening to the Lord and walking with him, and walking only with him, as Adam and Eve did in the beginning it is possible to enjoy God’s love and live in its fullness.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets