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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

Deuteronomy 4, 1.5-9

'And now, Israel, listen to the laws and customs which I am teaching you today, so that, by observing them, you may survive to enter and take possession of the country which Yahweh, God of your ancestors, is giving you.

Look: as Yahweh my God commanded me, I have taught you laws and customs, for you to observe in the country of which you are going to take possession.

Keep them, put them into practice, and other peoples will admire your wisdom and prudence. Once they know what all these laws are, they will exclaim, "No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation!"

And indeed, what great nation has its gods as near as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him?

And what great nation has laws and customs as upright as the entirety of this Law which I am laying down for you today?

'But take care, as you value your lives! Do not forget the things which you yourselves have seen, or let them slip from your heart as long as you live; teach them, rather, to your children and to your children's children.


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

The author of the Book of Deuteronomy, after having recalled some facts of Israel's journey into the wilderness, wants the people to become aware of their vocation in the world. And he begins to remind them of his first task: listening to the Lord. "Listen!" Moses says to the Israelites. It is not a generic exhortation or a favour. The Israelites must listen to God himself, who chose to direct his word to them. God himself asks for listening. It is He, in fact, who chose to descend among his people and decided to guide them through history, making them victorious amongst nations. And the Torah, the Law, is the treasure of wisdom of Israel, making Israel a witness of God among people. Every Israelite will be responsible for transmitting this wisdom of faith to the generations that follow so that the history of salvation may ferment the following of generations. The heart of this passage, which is like a red thread that accompanies the journey of Israel, is contained in Moses' question: "What other great nation has a god so near to it, as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him?"(v. 7). But the observance of the law, then as today, is only possible as a free response to God who has chosen us in love and who wants to bind us to him and to his plan of salvation to the world. Hence the importance for the believer to listen and remember. The temptation to listen to ourselves and remember only our own matters and to put ahead of everything our own concerns is always looming. Hence the primacy of listening. Faithfulness to listening to Scriptures frees us from the bondage to ourselves and the trends of this world. It binds us to God and to his plan of love.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets