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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Baruch 4, 5-12.27-29

Take courage, my people, memorial of Israel!

You were sold to the nations, but not for extermination. You provoked God; and so were delivered to your enemies,

since you had angered your Creator by offering sacrifices to demons, and not to God.

You had forgotten the eternal God who reared you. You had also grieved Jerusalem who nursed you,

for when she saw God's anger falling on you, she said: Listen, you neighbours of Zion: God has sent me great sorrow.

I have seen my sons and daughters taken into captivity, which the Eternal brought down on them.

I had reared them joyfully; in tears, in sorrow, I watched them go away.

Do not, any of you, exult over me, a widow, deserted by so many; I am bereaved because of the sins of my children, who turned away from the Law of God,

Take courage, my children, call on God: he who brought this on you will remember you.

As by your will you first strayed from God, so now turn back and search for him ten times harder;

for as he has been bringing down those disasters on you, so will he rescue you and give you eternal joy.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Israel is once again experiencing the weight of slavery, probably under the kingdom of Syria. The reason for the fall back into slavery is always the same: forgetting the Lord, even though he had freed them from the oppression of Egypt. The prophet says, "but you were handed over to your enemies because you angered God" (v.6). The people of Israel know well that the secret to remaining free in the land that God gave them is contained in the observation of their pact of love with God. And they know well, from direct and repeated experiences, that the humiliation of slavery is always caused by disobedience to the Lord. They should have remembered that happiness does not come from possessing things, not even those received as gifts from God, like the promised land, but from listening to the Word of God and from friendship with brothers and sisters. Therefore the prophet urges the people to take courage, "Take courage," he says at the beginning of the passage. It is not a superficial or optimistic appeal. It comes from the certainty that God is faithful, despite the sins the people have committed. God does not hide, even in moments of difficulty. He waits until we open the door of our heart, even just a crack. And he immediately rushes in. God transforms our sadness into a new time of festivity. It is enough just to raise our eyes a little towards God, to cry out even a single word for help, and God himself will enter our lives. This is why the prophet urges, "Take courage, my children, and cry to God, for you will be remembered by the one who brought this upon you. For just as you were disposed to go astray from God, return with tenfold zeal to seek him. For the one who brought these calamities upon you will bring you everlasting joy with your salvation"(v. 27-29).

Sunday Vigil