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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

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

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jeremiah 17,5-10

Yahweh says this, 'Accursed be anyone who trusts in human beings, who relies on human strength and whose heart turns from Yahweh. Such a person is like scrub in the wastelands: when good comes, it does not affect him since he lives in the parched places of the desert, uninhabited, salt land. 'Blessed is anyone who trusts in Yahweh, with Yahweh to rely on. Such a person is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it has nothing to fear, its foliage stays green; untroubled in a year of drought, it never stops bearing fruit. 'The heart is more devious than any other thing, and is depraved; who can pierce its secrets? I, Yahweh, search the heart, test the motives, to give each person what his conduct and his actions deserve.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

In this passage, Jeremiah - echoing many themes present in various books of the Old Testament - proposes the theme of the "two ways." One is travelled by those who trust in themselves and in their own strength and is destined to certain failure, and the other is followed by those who trust in the Lord and who flourish like trees that extend their roots along the banks of the river. The prophet had already accused Israel of having abandoned their Lord to hasten towards Egypt and Assyria in the belief that one of them would give them support and protection. The abundance of the waters of the Nile (Egypt) and the Euphrates (Assyria), which had led Israel to rush to these two great powers, is revealed as a bitter illusion: "Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals... they shall be like a shrub in the desert...They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land" (v 6). With this image, the prophet warns of futility of trusting in human power. Only the Lord can defend that small nation and make it grow free from the greed of the powerful. This is why the prophet proclaims: "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord" (v. 7). They, Jeremiah continues, truly are planted in abundance: "They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit" (v. 8). With the image of water, which in the desert regions of the Middle East was the symbol of the abundance of life, the prophet wants his listeners to understand how it is essential to remain faithful to the Lord and his covenant. Jeremiah closes with the image of the heart, the place that reveals the depth of our feelings and where the decision to bind oneself to God forever is made.

Memory of the Church