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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

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Joshua 3, 7-10.11.13-17

Yahweh said to Joshua, 'This very day, I shall begin to make you great in the eyes of all Israel so that they will know that, as I was with Moses, so I shall be with you.

Now, give this order to the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, "When you have reached the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you must halt in the Jordan itself." '

To the Israelites, Joshua then said, 'Come closer and hear the words of Yahweh your God.'

Joshua said, 'By this, you are to know that the living God is with you and without a doubt will expel the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites before you.

Look, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of the whole earth is about to move into the Jordan at your head.

As soon as the priests carrying the ark of Yahweh, Lord of the whole earth, have set the soles of their feet in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off; the upper waters flowing down will stop as a single mass.'

Accordingly, when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people.

As soon as the bearers of the ark reached the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the waters -- the Jordan is in spate throughout the harvest season-

the upper waters stood still and formed a single mass over a great distance, at Adam, the town near Zarethan, while those flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely separated. The people crossed opposite Jericho.

The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of Yahweh stood firm on dry ground in mid-Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until the whole nation had completed its crossing of the Jordan.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord reassured Joshua of his support and company: “So that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses.” The Lord is the one who guides his people, even when the people who lead the community of believers changes. The Lord – and only he – is the good shepherd. And whoever is called to the responsibility of guiding the people should conform to him. Joshua accepted the task that was given to him by the Lord and he spoke with authoritativeness to the people: he did not draw his authority from his qualities or strategies, but only from the fact that he conveyed the Lord’s commands. Therefore he could assure that the enemies would be driven away and the Lord himself would give the land to his people. Trusting this, the crossing of the river Jordan began. When the Ark was about to pass – just as at the Red Sea – the water drew away and opened up a path on dry ground. The Ark was borne by the Levites. Being consecrated to worship and holy things, they needed to be close to it. The rest of the people followed, at a distance. Halfway through the crossing, the Ark stopped and let the people pass in front of it: the Ark is the protagonist of this miraculous crossing. In just a few lines it is mentioned seven times. And this event is all the more extraordinary since the river was overflowing with water. But the Ark is stronger: the water split and the people could cross the riverbed and reach the opposite shore. The Ark – like a good shepherd – waited in the middle of the river for the entire people to pass. Only then did it advance to dry ground. The Lord does not abandon his people in times of danger or in difficulty. This crossing, which reminds us of the passing of the Red Sea, has one difference, though: while then Israel had crossed the sea with a sense of distrust and fear, now their trust in the Lord is much stronger. The liturgy of praise indeed anticipates effective and full victory. Even Raab, in her faith, had foreseen the conquest of the land by the Lord of Israel.

Memory of the Church