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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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Hosea 6,1-6

Come, let us return to Yahweh. He has rent us and he will heal us; he has struck us and he will bind up our wounds; after two days he will revive us, on the third day he will raise us up and we shall live in his presence. Let us know, let us strive to know Yahweh; that he will come is as certain as the dawn. He will come to us like a shower, like the rain of springtime to the earth. What am I to do with you, Ephraim? What am I to do with you, Judah? For your love is like morning mist, like the dew that quickly disappears. This is why I have hacked them to pieces by means of the prophets, why I have killed them with words from my mouth, why my sentence will blaze forth like the dawn- for faithful love is what pleases me, not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

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

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Yesterday we heard the prophet’s exhortation to Israel to return to the Lord. Today Israel decides to undertake the journey back: "Come, let us return to the Lord; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up" (v. 1). The path of conversion and return to the Lord does not come from us, from our desire for personal perfection. In the decision to return there is already the awareness that it is the Lord who saves us, who heals us, who sustains us. His judgment is forgiveness, not condemnation. This certainty accompanies those who repent from their sin. The prophet then seems to indicate the need for an itinerary. Forgiveness and healing are not automatic. They require a progression, a path of awareness and examination, decisions to make and habits to let go of. We could say that this is the meaning of the season of Lent. The text speaks of waiting two days and then getting up and setting off on a new path on the third day. We can find many similar instructions in the spiritual tradition of the Church. Conversion does not occur in an instance, but in an itinerary that unfolds day after day. Of course it is good to feel the urgency of our need to change and walk along the ways of the Lord. The prophet has the people say, "Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth" (v. 3). This means that we cannot linger; we cannot waste time or postpone our departure. This is the right time. Moreover, dawn does not delay, and spring does not wait. There is an urgent need for us to change our hearts, because the Gospel must be proclaimed, because the poor are waiting, and because the world needs words of hope. It does not matter if we are perfect, but it does matter if we are missionaries: we must feel the anxious need to change ourselves and the world. In this sense, personal conversion has an unavoidable social and communal dimension. We do not convert just to assure our own salvation; we convert to the Lord in order to walk with him along the streets of the world, preaching the gospel and healing every disease and infirmity. This is what the Lord wants. He does everything to make us understand. That is why the Lord asks, "What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah?" (v. 4).

Sunday Vigil