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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

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Nehemiah 7,1-7.61-72

Now, when the wall had been rebuilt and I had hung the doors, the gatekeepers (the singers and the Levites) were then appointed.

I entrusted the administration of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and to Hananiah the commander of the citadel, for he was a more trustworthy, God-fearing man than many others.

I said to them, 'The gates of Jerusalem must not be opened until the sun gets hot; and the doors must be shut and barred before it begins to go down. Detail guards from the residents of Jerusalem, each to his post, in front of his own house.'

The city was large and spacious but the population was small, and the houses had not been rebuilt.

My God then inspired me to assemble the nobles, the officials and the people for the purpose of taking a census by families. I discovered the genealogical register of those who had returned in the first group, and there I found entered:

These are the people of the province who returned from the captivity of the Exile, those whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had deported, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his own town.

They were the ones who arrived with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth, Bigvai, Nehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

The following, who came from Tel-Melah, Tel-Harsha, Cherub, Addon and Immer, could not prove that their families and ancestry were of Israelite origin:

the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda: six hundred and forty-two.

And among the priests: the sons of Hobaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai -- who had married one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, whose name he adopted.

These had looked for their entries in the official genealogies but were not to be found there, and were hence disqualified from the priesthood.

Consequently, His Excellency forbade them to eat any of the consecrated food until a priest appeared who could consult urim and thummim.

The whole assembly numbered forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty people,

not counting their slaves and maidservants to the number of seven thousand three hundred and thirty-seven. They also had two hundred and forty-five male and female singers.

They had four hundred and thirty-five camels and six thousand seven hundred and twenty donkeys.

A certain number of heads of families contributed to the work. His Excellency contributed one thousand gold drachmas, fifty bowls, and thirty priestly robes to the fund.

And heads of families gave twenty thousand gold drachmas and two thousand two hundred silver minas to the work fund.

The gifts made by the rest of the people amounted to twenty thousand gold drachmas, two thousand silver minas, and sixty-seven priestly robes.

The priests, the Levites and some of the people lived in Jerusalem and thereabouts; the singers, the gatekeepers, and the temple slaves in their appropriate towns; and all the other Israelites, in their own towns. Now when the seventh month came round -- the Israelites being in their towns-


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Only at the beginning of this chapter does the building of the city walls reach its conclusion with the putting in place of the gates and the designation of various government offices within the city and temple. A precise list follows, with names and numbers, of Jerusalem’s inhabitants, which reflects with some variations the one we find in chapter two of Ezra. We could instinctively ask what importance and value to attribute to a list of names, which moreover repeats a list already generally known. We must consider the significance that a "name" has in the Bible as regards genealogies, or rather, the history of the people of Israel. Names and genealogies, in fact, are not simply lists, but rather indicate continuity in history and even the meaning it takes on, when it remains in the seedbed of the blessing with which God created human beings. Nehemiah means to manifest the totality of the people, the unity of a community made up of diverse peoples who seem to even have different rights on account of birth certificate issues (lost records: verses 61-64). Furthermore, the repetition of names already listed in the book of Ezra (chap. 2) intends to enable the participation of all those returned from exile in the feast, which ratifies the restored unity of the people around the sole authority of the word of God and which will be celebrated in the following chapter. The rebuilding of the walls thus acquires its significance for all Israel. In this is expressed the worth of a community who lives the joy of communion and the gladness of having found again its identity as a people freed by the Lord and led back to its origins. We cannot help but to see here the roots and the sense of every community which, even in the diversity of its members, shares in the sole source that keeps it alive and allows it to taste the joy of brotherly life: the presence of God, which unites us, and of his word, which teaches how to live.

Prayer of the Christmas season

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 23 October
Memory of the Poor
Tuesday, 24 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 25 October
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 26 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 27 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 28 October
Memory of the Apostles
Sunday, 29 October
Liturgy of the Sunday