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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of the death of Gandhi. With him we remember all those who, in the name of non-violence, are peacemakers.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Samuel 12,1-7.10-17

Yahweh sent the prophet Nathan to David. He came to him and said: In the same town were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great abundance; the poor man had nothing but a ewe lamb, only a single little one which he had bought. He fostered it and it grew up with him and his children, eating his bread, drinking from his cup, sleeping in his arms; it was like a daughter to him. When a traveller came to stay, the rich man would not take anything from his own flock or herd to provide for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead, he stole the poor man's lamb and prepared that for his guest. David flew into a great rage with the man. 'As Yahweh lives,' he said to Nathan 'the man who did this deserves to die. For doing such a thing and for having shown no pity, he shall make fourfold restitution for the lamb.' Nathan then said to David, 'You are the man! Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, "I anointed you king of Israel, I saved you from Saul's clutches, For this, your household will never be free of the sword, since you showed contempt for me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite, to make her your wife." 'Yahweh says this, "Out of your own household I shall raise misfortune for you. Before your very eyes I shall take your wives and give them to your neighbour, who will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have worked in secret, but I shall work this for all Israel to see, in broad daylight." ' David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against Yahweh.' Nathan then said to David, 'Yahweh, for his part, forgives your sin; you are not to die. But, since you have outraged Yahweh by doing this, the child born to you will die.' And Nathan went home. Yahweh struck the child which Uriah's wife had borne to David and it fell gravely ill. David pleaded with Yahweh for the child; he kept a strict fast and went home and spent the night lying on the ground, covered with sacking. The officials of his household stood round him, intending to get him off the ground, but he refused, nor would he take food with them.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Lord sends Nathan to David to tell him to confess his sin and repent, a task entrusted to prophets and to the Word of God. Pride often blinds and prevents us from seeing the sin in which we have fallen. We need the Word to show us our sin and illuminate our heart on the path of conversion. Denouncing the sin is not enough. The Lord does not want the death of the sinner, but that he may live and convert. Nathan, wanting to make David understand the abyss into which he fell, tells the parable of a wealthy landowner who steals from the poor man the only sheep he had. David reacts strongly and declares immediately that anyone who commits such a crime ought to pay restitution according to the law (v. 5), perhaps four times (see Ex 21:3) or seven times (Prov 6:31), or even pay with his very life (v. 6). It is surprising that David does not recognize himself in the abusive figure until Nathan tells him clearly and directly: "You are the man!" (v. 7). Listening to the Word of God just once is not enough. We need to listen to it repeatedly and have it explained to us by a prophet. Nathan explains point by point to David the meaning of the parable: first, he enumerates the gifts God had given him (vv. 7-8), and then lets him know how instead he had "despised the word of the Lord" committing what was evil in God’s eyes (v. 9). Nathan’s words had their immediate medicinal effect. Everything becomes clearer to David’s eyes. Unlike Saul who was reproached by Samuel for his disobedience (1 Sam 13:7-14, 15:9-29), David does not try to justify himself, as we tend to. He welcomes the judgment of the Word of God, recognizes his sin and says, "I have sinned against the Lord" (v.13). In front of the prophet, David confesses his sin. And through the prophet’s words, the Lord forgives David. In his exchange with Nathan, David knows with certainty that the Lord forgave him. We need an envoy from God to whom we can confess our sins. The prophet’s word assures us, as it assured David: "Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die." John Chrysostom comments: "Consider that God is slow to punish and quick to save." The passage notes that "Nathan went to his house" (v. 15) and David was left alone before God. Israel’s tradition puts Psalm 50, the best known and most vibrant of the seven penitential Psalms, on David’s lips. This, however, does not erase the damage David’s sin caused in his entire "house." Bathsheba’s son falls deathly ill. David supplicates the Lord, fasts rigorously and puts on a sackcloth for the seven days of the child’s serious illness with the hope that the Lord may relent and allow the child to live. Then, when the child dies, David accepts faithfully God’s will: "he went into the house of the Lord, and worshiped" (v. 20).

Sunday Vigil