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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

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jeremiah 17, 5-10

Yahweh says this, 'Accursed be anyone who trusts in human beings, who relies on human strength and whose heart turns from Yahweh.

Such a person is like scrub in the wastelands: when good comes, it does not affect him since he lives in the parched places of the desert, uninhabited, salt land.

'Blessed is anyone who trusts in Yahweh, with Yahweh to rely on.

Such a person is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it has nothing to fear, its foliage stays green; untroubled in a year of drought, it never stops bearing fruit.

'The heart is more devious than any other thing, and is depraved; who can pierce its secrets?

I, Yahweh, search the heart, test the motives, to give each person what his conduct and his actions deserve.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

In this passage, Jeremiah--echoing many themes present in various books of the Old Testament--proposes the issue of the "two ways." One is travelled by those who trust in themselves and in their own strength, and it is destined to certain failure, and the other way is of the one who trusts in the Lord and who flourishes as tree roots extending along the course of the river. The prophet had already accused Israel of having abandoned its Lord to hasten towards Egypt and Assyria with the belief that between them they would find support and defence. The abundance of the waters of the Nile (Egypt) and the Euphrates (Assyria), which had led Israel to flock to these two great power centres, is revealed as a bitter illusion: "Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals... they shall be like a shrub in the desert...They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land" (vv. 5-6). ?With this image, the prophet warns of futility of trusting in human power. ? Only the Lord can defend the little people and make it grow free from the greed of the powerful. For this reason, the Jeremiah proclaims: "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord" (v. 7) and the prophet continues saying that they live really in abundance. "They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit"(v 8).? With the image of water, which in the desert areas of the Middle East was the symbol of the abundance of life, the prophet wants his listeners to understand the indispensability of abiding in the faithfulness to the Lord and his covenant. Jeremiah closes with the image of the heart, the place that shows the depth of the feelings and where the decision to bind oneself to God forever occurs. ?

Memory of the Church