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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

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 19, 1-15

Then Yahweh said to Jeremiah, 'Go and buy a potter's earthenware jug. Take some of the people's elders and some of the senior priests with you.

Go out towards the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, just outside the Gate of the Potsherds. There proclaim the words I shall say to you.

You must say, "Kings of Judah, inhabitants of Jerusalem! Listen to the word of Yahweh! Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this: I am about to bring such a disaster on this place that the ears of every one who hears of it will ring.

For they have abandoned me and have made this place unrecognisable, and offered incense here to other gods which neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew before. They have filled this place with the blood of the innocent;

for they have built high places for Baal to burn their sons as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing I never ordered, never mentioned, that had never entered my thoughts.

So now the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when people will no longer call this place Topheth, or Valley of Ben-Hinnom, but Valley of Slaughter.

Because of this place, I shall empty Judah and Jerusalem of sound advice; I shall make them fall by the sword before their enemies, by the hand of those determined to kill them; I shall give their corpses as food to the birds of the sky and the animals of earth.

And I shall make this city an object of horror and derision; every passer-by will be appalled at it and whistle at the sight of all the wounds it has sustained.

I shall make them eat the flesh of their own sons and daughters: they will eat one another during the siege, in the shortage to which their enemies, and those determined to kill them, will reduce them."

'You must break this jug in front of the men who are with you,

and say to them, "Yahweh Sabaoth says this: I am going to break this people and this city just as one breaks a potter's pot, so that it can never be mended again. "Topheth will become a burial ground, for lack of other burial space.

That is how I shall treat this place, Yahweh declares, and its inhabitants, by making this city like Topheth.

The houses of Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah, all the houses on the roofs of which they offered incense to the whole array of heaven and poured libations to other gods, will be unclean, like this place Topheth." '

Jeremiah then came back from Topheth where Yahweh had sent him to prophesy, and stood in the court of the Temple of Yahweh and said to all the people,

'Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of Israel, says this, "Yes, on this city, and on all the towns belonging to it, I shall bring all the disaster which I had decreed for it, since they have stubbornly refused to listen to my words." '


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The life of the Prophet is made of words and acts, of actions and signs. As he had been several times before, Jeremiah is called to perform a symbolic act: he must take an earthenware jug, go to the valley of Topheth or of the son of Hinnom (Gehenna), and break it in front of the elders of the people and some of the priests, in order to show what would happen to the people. Jeremiah has to speak publicly in front of the city gates, where people would gather and pass by and where occasionally public events were held. The Word of God must be heard by all, whether or not they want to hear it. Here the word is accompanied by an act that symbolically represents the destruction of Jerusalem. This valley may have been used for sacrifices to idols: “They have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known.” A similar reference is found in verse 13: “...all the houses upon whose roofs offerings have been made to the whole host of heaven, and libations have been poured out to other gods.” Idolatry not only distances us from God, but it leads to the desolation and the end of the entire people. Indeed, can people live in a human way without God? Can a city? Can a people? There is no doubt that the many places of desolation found in the world in which we live are at least in part the consequence of a life in which God no longer has a place because we all lift ourselves up as the absolute masters of our lives. For Jeremiah it is clear that everything that is happening has its roots in the fact that the people “refuse to hear” the voice of God and serve the idols they have constructed. Here as elsewhere, everything is reduced to a decision of God, but in reality, there is a human decision at the origin of what happens, as can clearly be seen in the closing words of our passage: “They have stiffened their necks, refusing to hear my words.” It is easy for us to stiffen our necks before the word of God and keep doing things our own way, without listening and without changing our thoughts and actions.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 19 November
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 20 November
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 21 November
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 22 November
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 23 November
Memory of the Church
Friday, 24 November
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 25 November
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 26 November
Liturgy of the Sunday