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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

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Kings 17,5-23

The king of Assyria invaded the whole country and, coming to Samaria, laid siege to it for three years.

In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah on the Habor, a river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

This happened because the Israelites had sinned against Yahweh their God who had brought them out of Egypt, out of the grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshipped other gods,

they followed the practices of the nations which Yahweh had dispossessed for them.

The Israelites spoke slightingly of Yahweh their God. They built themselves high places wherever they lived, from watchtower to fortified town.

They set up pillars and sacred poles for themselves on every high hill and under every luxuriant tree.

They sacrificed on all the high places like the nations which Yahweh had expelled for them, and did wicked things there, provoking Yahweh's anger.

They served idols, although Yahweh had told them, 'This you must not do.'

And yet through all the prophets and the seers, Yahweh had given Israel and Judah this warning, 'Turn from your wicked ways and keep my commandments and my laws in accordance with the entire Law which I laid down for your fathers and delivered to them through my servants the prophets.'

But they would not listen, they were as stubborn as their ancestors, who had no faith in Yahweh their God.

They despised his laws and the covenant which he had made with their ancestors and the warnings which he had given them. Pursuing futility, they themselves became futile through copying the nations round them, although Yahweh had ordered them not to act as they did.

They rejected all the commandments of Yahweh their God and cast themselves metal idols, two calves; they made themselves sacred poles, they worshipped the whole array of heaven, and they served Baal.

They caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire of sacrifice, also they practised divination and sorcery, they sold themselves to doing what displeases Yahweh, provoking his anger.

Because of which, Yahweh became enraged with Israel and thrust them away from him. The tribe of Judah was the only one left.

Judah did not keep the commandments of Yahweh their God either but copied the practices which Israel had introduced.

Yahweh rejected the whole race of Israel; he brought them low, delivering them into the hands of marauders, until at length he thrust them away from him.

And indeed he had torn Israel away from the House of David, and they had made Jeroboam son of Nebat king; Jeroboam had drawn Israel away from Yahweh and led them into a great sin.

The Israelites copied the sin which Jeroboam had committed; they did not give it up,

until at length Yahweh thrust Israel away from him, as he had foretold through all his servants the prophets; he deported the Israelites from their own country to Assyria, where they have been ever since.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In the preceding chapters (from 13 to 16) the author narrates the story of eight kings of the north and four of the south. The only event that he reports in any detail is Ahaz’s interference in the temple of Jerusalem, where he had a copy made of an altar he had seen in Damascus (16:10-18). Chapter 17 is a sort of homily that tells of the end of the northern kingdom. In the preceding years Hosea and Amos had prophesied in the name of the Lord and called both the leaders and the whole people to conversion. After the Syro-Ephraimite war (15:29, 16:8) the northern kingdom became a tributary of Assyria, but when Hoshea, the king of the north, appealed to Egypt for aid, the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V besieged Samaria, and the capture of the city (721 B.C.) is narrated in the annals of his successor Sargon II. The sacred author does not put all of the blame for the city’s fall on King Hoshea: "He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not like the kings of Israel who were before him" (v. 2). There is an earlier history that weighs on the present. The fall of the northern kingdom is caused by idolatry and the misdeeds that came with it: the people had followed their ancestors’ example in rejecting the covenant and imitating the customs of the neighbouring peoples. The Lord was forced to intervene and expel them from his presence (v. 19). This passage is aimed at Judah in particular, and it is meant to keep them from undervaluing the lesson that comes from Israel’s fall. Even if the southern kingdom still exists, they could still suffer the same fate as the north. If the people of Judah follow the idolatrous attitudes of the northern people, they will find themselves in the same condition and they, too, will experience the tragedy of separation from God. This is a perennial lesson in the Bible: it is not God who condemns his people, it is the people themselves who distance themselves from God with their idolatrous behaviour and fall prey to the terrible snares of destruction set by the prince of evil.

Memory of the Church

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