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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Ezra 6, 7-8.12.14-20

Leave the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews alone, to get on with their work on that Temple of God; they are permitted to rebuild that Temple of God on that site.

And herewith are my instructions as to how you will assist these elders of the Jews in the rebuilding of that Temple of God: the cost is to be paid in full to these men from the royal revenue, that is, from the taxes of Transeuphrates, and without interruption.

and may the God who has caused his name to live there overthrow the king of any people who dares to defy this and destroy that Temple of God in Jerusalem! I, Darius, have issued this order. Let it be punctiliously obeyed!'

and the elders of the Jews made good progress over their building, thanks to the prophetic activity of the prophet Haggai and Zechariah son of Iddo, completing the reconstruction in accordance with the command of the God of Israel and the order of Cyrus and of Darius.

This Temple was completed on the twenty-third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

The Israelites -- the priests, the Levites and the remainder of the exiles -- joyfully celebrated the dedication of this Temple of God;

for the dedication of this Temple of God they offered one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs and, as a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he-goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel.

Then they installed the priests in their orders and the Levites in their positions for the ministry of the Temple of God in Jerusalem, as prescribed in the Book of Moses.

The exiles celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.

The Levites, as one man, had purified themselves; all were pure, so they sacrificed the Passover for all the exiles, for their brothers the priests and for themselves.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Finally, the time of the rebuilding comes. Like in a drama, the author is not interested in the precise historical description of the events--some details are even contradictory and anachronistic--rather he underlines that the conclusion of the works of the house of God marks the end of a long story, started with oppression from the kings of Assyria up to the destruction of the temple. Now this is all over. The promise God had made to David is fulfilled. God never forgets His word. It is fulfilled notwithstanding the sins of the people of Israel and the adverse historical conditions, which apparently restrain the Lord’s plan. Now the temple—the core of God’s presence amid his people--and religious feasts can be celebrated. The joy and unity of the people of God are the features of this rejoicing: "The people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy." It is a continuous joy, repeated for "seven days", that is forever: "With joy they celebrated the festival of unleavened bread for seven days." No one can be sad before the Lord, as if ignoring his protection. To stay where the presence of God is evident means being freed from the burden of sadness and loneliness, children of our love for ourselves that we are. This joy is shown particularly in the celebrations of the Passover and the Unleavened Bread, which the Jewish tradition later combined into one. They celebrated the memory of the Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, and strengthened their devotion to God, liberator of all slavery. The remembrance of this liberation renews a joyful service to the Lord and a fresh availability to be guided by His Law. This is the only possible beginning of the celebration of the rebuilt temple: praise to the Lord of a people united by the presence of God, in memory of regained freedom.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord