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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jeremiah 18, 18-20

'Come on,' they said, 'let us concoct a plot against Jeremiah, for the Law will not perish for lack of priests, nor advice for lack of wise men, nor the word for lack of prophets. Come on, let us slander him and pay no attention to anything he says.'

Pay attention to me, Yahweh, hear what my adversaries are saying.

Should evil be returned for good? Now they are digging a pit for me. Remember how I pleaded before you and spoke good of them, to turn your retribution away from them.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

In this short passage the thoughts and contradictions that shake the soul of the prophet Jeremiah are reported. In him we see the figure of the believer who is being persecuted by his enemies and who receives "bad" for the "good" he does. The enemies not only refused his preaching but even felt it unnecessary because they claimed they already knew what the will of God was because of their practice of worship and for their responsibility they carry to interpret the law. It is the attitude of the Pharisees toward Jesus who will be certainly challenged because he proposes a teaching centred on love, but mainly because he introduces himself as the true and authoritative interpreter of the thought of God, indeed as the only Teacher. And it is the attitude of all those - even in the Christian story - who consider themselves self-sufficient and able to live their faith alone. The prophet Jeremiah knows that it was not he who chose to be a prophet. And, in fact, he speaks neither on his initiative nor to propose his own content. It is the Lord who chose him and sent him to speak to the people to manifest God's will. The presence of the prophets is a sign of God's love which does not want His people to be slaves of their own thoughts and their own narrow horizons. The Lord, through the prophets and finally through his own Son, wants to involve believers in His Word, in the great plan of love for all the peoples on earth. Jeremiah, even with all his hesitations, realizes he cannot yield to the enemies that continue to set fatal snares. For this reason he turns directly to the Lord: "Give heed to me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say" (v. 19). And with the familiarity of the believer, he reminds God of the time when he interceded for those who are now his enemies. He does not hesitate invoking punishment for their evil deeds: "Do not forgive their iniquity" (v. 23). The Lord Jesus, who brings to a climax the communication of the Kingdom, also purifies the request of Jeremiah and invites his disciples, providing himself the first example, to pray also for their enemies. The love that the Lord gives us is stronger than any evil and will defeat any evil.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets