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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

1 Maccabees 4, 26-35

Those of the foreigners who had escaped came and gave Lysias an account of all that had happened.

The news shocked and dismayed him, for affairs in Israel had not gone as he intended, and the result was quite the opposite to what the king had ordered.

The next year he mobilised sixty thousand picked troops and five thousand cavalry with the intention of finishing off the Jews.

They advanced into Idumaea and made their base at Beth-Zur, where Judas met them with ten thousand men.

When he saw their military strength he offered this prayer, 'Blessed are you, Saviour of Israel, who shattered the mighty warrior's attack at the hand of your servant David, and delivered the Philistine camp into the hands of Jonathan son of Saul, and his armour-bearer.

Crush this expedition in the same way at the hands of your people Israel; let their troops and cavalry bring them nothing but shame.

Sow panic in their ranks, confound the confidence they put in their numbers and send them reeling in defeat.

Overthrow them by the sword of those who love you, and all who acknowledge your name will sing your praises.'

The two forces engaged, and five thousand men of Lysias' troops fell in hand-to-hand fighting.

Seeing the rout of his army and the courage of Judas' troops and their readiness to live or die nobly, Lysias withdrew to Antioch, where he recruited mercenaries for a further invasion of Judaea in even greater strength.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The defeat of the Syrian army was very bitter for Lysias, the regent of Antioch, who saw the failure of the expeditions against Judas one after the other. Therefore he decided to take command himself, thinking that he could finally defeat and subjugate Judas and his people. With a more numerous and better trained army than the one used before, he camped at Beth-zur, a town on the border between Edom and Judah at about 23 kilometres from Jerusalem, and was ready to strike. When Judas saw such a massive army he at once turned again to God in prayer without hesitation and without delaying to organize his army. Judas reminded the Lord how much he had done in the past for his people, calling him “the saviour of Israel”: “Blessed are you, O Saviour of Israel, who crushed the attack of the mighty warrior by the hand of your servant David, and gave the camp of the Philistines into the hands of Jonathan son of Saul, and of the man who carried his armour” (v. 30). After these two recollections of salvation, Judas asks the Lord to intervene once again, now with the same strength: “Hem in this army by the hand of your people Israel, and let them be ashamed of their troops and their cavalry. Fill them with cowardice; melt the boldness of their strength; let them tremble in their destruction. Strike them down with the sword of those who love you, and let all who know your name praise you with hymns” (vv. 31-33). On one hand there is the defeat of the enemy and on the other there is the praise of all those who recognize the power of the Lord and rely on him. In fact, what happened was just as Judas had asked the Lord. Of course, we are within the logic of the Old Testament, about battles both for the conquest of land and the protection of the people from destruction. But it is already clear that salvation for the people of God does not come from their natural powers, but only from God. This is a lesson that will be even more evident and clear in the New Testament.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 15 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 16 October
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 17 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 18 October
Memory of the Apostles
Thursday, 19 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 20 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 21 October
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday