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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Prayer for the unity of the Churches. Particular memory of the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Tobit 1,10-22

When the banishment into Assyria came, I was taken away and went to Nineveh. All my brothers and the people of my race ate the food of the heathen,

but for my part I was careful not to eat the food of the heathen.

And because I had kept faith with my God with my whole heart,

the Most High granted me the favour of Shalmaneser, and I became the king's purveyor.

Until his death I used to travel to Media, where I transacted business on his behalf, and I deposited sacks of silver worth ten talents with Gabael the brother of Gabrias at Rhages in Media.

On the death of Shalmaneser his son Sennacherib succeeded; the roads into Media were barred, and I could no longer go there.

In the days of Shalmaneser I had often given alms to the people of my race;

I gave my bread to the hungry and clothes to those who lacked them; and I buried, when I saw them, the bodies of my country-folk thrown over the walls of Nineveh.

I also buried those who were killed by Sennacherib. When Sennacherib was beating a disorderly retreat from Judaea after the King of heaven had punished his blasphemies, he killed a great number of Israelites in his rage. So I stole their bodies to bury them; Sennacherib looked for them and could not find them.

A Ninevite went and told the king it was I who had buried them secretly. When I knew that the king had been told about me and saw myself being hunted by men who would put me to death, I was afraid and fled.

All my goods were seized; they were all confiscated by the treasury; nothing was left me but my wife Anna and my son Tobias.

Less than forty days after this, the king was murdered by his two sons, who then fled to the mountains of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon succeeded. Ahikar the son of my brother Anael, was appointed chancellor of the exchequer for the kingdom and given the main ordering of affairs.

Ahikar then interceded for me and I was allowed to return to Nineveh, since Ahikar had been chief cupbearer, keeper of the signet, administrator and treasurer under Sennacherib king of Assyria, and Esarhaddon had kept him in office. He was a relation of mine; he was my nephew.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Tobit continues to speak about himself, and, after having recalled his past as a believer in Jerusalem, he now describes his situation as an exile. Even in exile, he has not stopped being faithful to the Law of the Lord. Indeed, with a touch of pride, he emphasizes that he does not want to eat the food of the Gentiles, and, above all, he continues to practice almsgiving, which is strongly recommended by Scripture. Nonetheless, his faithfulness to the Law does not keep him from working as a buyer for the king Shalmaneser (vv. 11-12). This brings to mind the stories already lived by Joseph, Daniel, and Mordecai. Faith does not prevent believers of different faiths from living together, and none of them are obliged to compromise their respective religious convictions. In fact, the text seems to suggest the opposite when it has Tobit say: "Because I was mindful of God with all my heart, the Most High gave me favour and good standing with Shalmaneser." Unfortunately, Tobit fell into disfavour with the new king, even though he obviously continued to live out his faith devotedly, just as he had always done. While he continued to practice almsgiving, Tobit decided to reach out to a "new poverty," that is, the many dead bodies that had been abandoned with no one to take care of them. Tobit felt the urgency of providing the new work of mercy of burying the bodies in which no one took an interest. The verb "to bury," which will be repeated seventeen times in the book, constitutes one of the book’s important themes. Tobit’s testimony will carry notable weight in the Christian tradition, especially during the Middle Ages. But it is precisely this mercy towards the dead that causes Tobit’s ruin. He is denounced for his work of charity to the king Sennacherib (v. 19-20). Forced to flee, only one source of wealth remains to him, his family. Despite his faithfulness to God and his justice, Tobit once again knows exile. Nevertheless, a change in the situation of the royal family (the ascendancy of Ahikar, one of Sennacherib’s administrators who was considered a relative of Tobit) permits him to return to Nineveh.

Memory of the Church

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