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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

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Kings 19,9a-11.14-21.31-35.36

Sennacherib again sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 'Tell Hezekiah king of Judah this, "Do not let your God on whom you are relying deceive you with the promise: Jerusalem will not fall into the king of Assyria's clutches. You have learnt by now what the kings of Assyria have done to all the other countries, devoting them to destruction. Are you likely to be saved? Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers' hands and read it; he then went up to the Temple of Yahweh and spread it out before Yahweh. Hezekiah said this prayer in the presence of Yahweh, 'Yahweh Sabaoth, God of Israel, enthroned on the winged creatures, you alone are God of all the kingdoms of the world, you made heaven and earth. Give ear, Yahweh, and listen; open your eyes, Yahweh, and see! Hear the words of Sennacherib, who has sent to insult the living God. It is true, Yahweh, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations, they have thrown their gods on the fire, for these were not gods but human artefacts -- wood and stone -- and hence they have destroyed them. But now, Yahweh our God, save us from his clutches, I beg you, and let all the kingdoms of the world know that you alone are God, Yahweh.' Isaiah son of Amoz then sent the following message to Hezekiah, 'Yahweh, God of Israel, says this, "I have heard the prayer which you have addressed to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria." Here is the pronouncement which Yahweh has made about him: "She despises you, she scorns you, the virgin daughter of Zion; she tosses her head at you, the daughter of Jerusalem! for a remnant will issue from Jerusalem, and survivors from Mount Zion. Yahweh Sabaoth's jealous love will accomplish this. "This, then, is what Yahweh says about the king of Assyria: "He will not enter this city, will shoot no arrow at it, confront it with no shield, throw up no earthwork against it. By the road by which he came, by that he will return; he will not enter this city, declares Yahweh. I shall protect this city and save it for my sake and my servant David's sake." ' That same night the angel of Yahweh went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. In the early morning when it was time to get up, there they lay, so many corpses. Sennacherib struck camp and left; he returned home and stayed in Nineveh.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage begins by relating the threats of the Assyrian king Sennacherib toward King Hezekiah of Judah. After the fall of the northern kingdom the threat turns directly toward Jerusalem. Sennacherib tells Hezekiah not to place his faith in the Lord: "Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria." Sennacherib, who had already won several battles in the region, wants to break Hezekiah’s faith, telling him that his God is not as powerful as he thinks: "See, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, destroying them utterly. Shall you be delivered?" There is a prideful sarcasm in the words of the Assyrian king, meant to weaken Hezekiah’s faith. But the king of Judah—even while staying alert to the threats aimed at Jerusalem—does not allow his faith to falter. He knows well how much more seasoned the enemy’s army is than his army and that he cannot face that army alone, with only his own forces. He knows also however that he can place his trust in God, and that in Him is his strength. He immediately goes to the temple and turns to the Lord in prayer. He does not pray for himself, but for the city and for the salvation of his people: "Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God...So now, O Lord our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand [Sennacherib’s], so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.’" The king receives a response in the words of the prophet Isaiah, sent by God. The prophet says that his prayer has reached heaven. The city will not only be saved from destruction—the Assyrian king, "shall not come into this city, shoot an arrow there"—but that the Lord will save the city, "for from Jerusalem a remnant shall go out, and from Mount Zion a band of survivors." The city is saved by God not for its own sake, but for the mission which is entrusted to it. That small remnant is the small group of the Lord’s faithful which He has chosen to profess his plan of universal salvation to the whole world. Salvation is not for the city alone but for the whole world. While this was already happening during the time of King Hezekiah in an unclear way, it now happens with greater clarity: that "remnant" is Jesus himself and his disciples sent into the world to proclaim the Gospel of love.


06/21/2016
Memory of the Mother of the Lord


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