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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

Judges 9, 6-15

All the leading men of Shechem and all Beth-Millo then met and proclaimed Abimelech king at the oak of the cultic stone at Shechem.

News of this was brought to Jotham. He went and stood on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted at the top of his voice: Hear me, leaders of Shechem, so that God may also hear you!

One day the trees went out to anoint a king to rule them. They said to the olive tree, 'Be our king!'

The olive tree replied, 'Must I forgo my oil which gives honour to gods and men, to stand and sway over the trees?'

Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'You come and be our king!'

The fig tree replied, 'Must I forgo my sweetness, forgo my excellent fruit, to go and sway over the trees?'

Then the trees said to the vine, 'You come and be our king!'

The vine replied, 'Must I forgo my wine which cheers gods and men, to go and sway over the trees?'

Then the trees all said to the thorn bush, 'You come and be our king!'

And the thorn bush replied to the trees, 'If you are anointing me in good faith to be your king, come and shelter in my shade. But, if not, fire will come out of the thorn bush and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

It was a very confusing period in Israel’s history. Personal ambitions and idolatry marked so much of God’s people and weakened them. Abimelech the son of Jerub-Baal went to Shechem unto his mother’s kin, and convinced them using the argument that he was of their own blood. It was not enough, because the Israelites, conditioned their choices to their desire for tranquillity and they could not understand what the will of God was. When the bond with God weakens, the blood bonds become important, but they cannot guarantee security, and the logic of power is more decisive than blood ties. Abimelech killed his own brothers not because they had betrayed God, but to assert his power. Jotham was the youngest and had survived the massacre of his relatives and he began to cry out against Abimelech. Jotham is the voice of the smallest one that speaks freely and remembers injustice. He ran away, to safety, but he spoke clearly to Abimelech and told him that deception would eventually be punished. God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem. Without God division grows. The men of Shechem rebelled against Abimelech. It is a story of mistrust, division, and violence that produces more violence. The citizens of Shechem set ambushes against Abimelech and against passing travellers. It is the random violence that affects innocent people and eventually becomes faceless barbarism. It’s a story that seems to have no end, because without God there is no peace. Abimelech punishes and kills, he even destroys the city and sprinkles it with salt. Abimelech appears as the ruthless logic of power that does not stop in front of anyone. His end is inglorious for a fighter, he is wounded by a woman who defended the town. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. Violence produces violence and those who use it also become victims themselves.

Memory of the Saints and the Prophets