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The Everyday Prayer


 
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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Orthodox Churches.


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

1 Samuel 16,1-13

Yahweh said to Samuel, 'How much longer do you mean to go on mourning over Saul, now that I myself have rejected him as ruler of Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have found myself a king from among his sons.' Samuel replied, 'How can I go? When Saul hears of it he will kill me.' Yahweh then said, 'Take a heifer with you and say, "I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh." Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I shall reveal to you what you must do; and you will anoint for me the one I indicate to you.' Samuel did what Yahweh ordered and went to Bethlehem. The elders of the town came trembling to meet him and asked, 'Seer, is your coming favourable for us,' 'Yes,' he replied. 'I have come to sacrifice to Yahweh. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.' He purified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, he looked at Eliab and thought, 'This must be Yahweh's anointed now before him,' but Yahweh said to Samuel, 'Take no notice of his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him; God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but Yahweh looks at the heart.' Jesse then called Abinadab and presented him to Samuel, who said, 'Yahweh has not chosen this one either.' Jesse then presented Shammah, but Samuel said, 'Yahweh has not chosen this one either.' Jesse thus presented seven of his sons to Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, 'Yahweh has not chosen these.' He then asked Jesse, 'Are these all the sons you have?' Jesse replied, 'There is still one left, the youngest; he is looking after the sheep.' Samuel then said to Jesse, 'Send for him, for we shall not sit down to eat until he arrives.' Jesse had him sent for; he had ruddy cheeks, with fine eyes and an attractive appearance. Yahweh said, 'Get up and anoint him: he is the one!' At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him, surrounded by his brothers; and the spirit of Yahweh seized on David from that day onwards. Samuel, for his part, set off and went to Ramah.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The previous chapter ended with the news that God had rejected Saul as king of Israel. And Samuel seems not to know what else to do but lament over the rejection of Saul. Once again the Lord intervenes, ordering Samuel to go to Jesse in Bethlehem outside the northern kingdom of Saul and the perimeter Rama-Bethel Mizpah, all that was familiar to him. Now, he must go into a new territory because there the Lord recognized a new king: "I have provided for myself a king among his sons." Samuel recognizes the risky nature of the business and objects: "If Saul hears of it, he will kill me." But the Lord suggests a way to get around it: go to Bethlehem. The inhabitants who know Samuel and think he could bring trouble to the city fear the sight of him. After calming them down, Samuel offers a sacrifice and also meets Jesse who lines up his sons before Samuel. Only the prophet knows the reason for the line up. Jesse and the elders do not know that they are witnesses to a decisive event in the life of Israel. Eliab, the first of Jesse’s sons, is comely and Samuel thinks him handsome, but the Lord, who speaks directly to the prophet, warns him not to pay attention to his physical appearance. Once Eliab is eliminated also the other sons of Jesse seem inadequate. There is the eighth son, however, the youngest. In his father’s eyes he does not seem to count for anything, so much so that his father does not even bother to present him to Samuel. Samuel, however, asks that the boy be called and orders that no one will dine until the boy appears. This passage paints a singular scene: all the elders are standing waiting for this boy of whom no one has yet has even spoken his name. Finally, the young David arrives. He is the one the Lord chose to reign over Israel. David is handsome: "He was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome" (v. 12). "This is the one," we hear the Lord say to Samuel. And the prophet immediately anoints him with oil. The anointing is done in private, not in public, but now Israel has received from God a new king: "The spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward" (v. 13). The Lord and Samuel are now bound to this young boy who would come to reign over Israel. The anointing makes him a messenger of God. This is exactly what happens to every Christian anointed at Baptism: his greatness lies not in his stature nor in his wisdom, but only in God’s predilection and love. The Lord is the one who works great wonders in his children through the power of his Spirit.


01/19/2016
Memory of the Mother of the Lord


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