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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

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Esther 6,1-14; 7,1-10

That night the king could not sleep; he called for the Record Book, or Annals, to be brought and read to him.

They contained an account of how Mordecai had denounced Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs serving as Guards of the Threshold, who had plotted to assassinate King Ahasuerus.

'And what honour and dignity', the king asked, 'was conferred on Mordecai for this?' 'Nothing has been done for him,' the gentlemen-in-waiting replied.

The king then said, 'Who is outside in the antechamber?' Haman had, that very moment, entered the outer antechamber of the private apartments, to ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on the gallows which he had just put up for the purpose.

So the king's gentlemen-in-waiting replied, 'It is Haman out in the antechamber.' 'Bring him in,' the king said,

and, as soon as Haman came in, went on to ask, 'What is the right way to treat a man whom the king wishes to honour?' 'Whom', thought Haman, 'would the king wish to honour, if not me?'

So he replied, 'If the king wishes to honour someone,

royal robes should be brought from the king's wardrobe, and a horse from the king's stable, sporting a royal diadem on its head.

The robes and horse should be entrusted to one of the noblest of the king's officers-of-state, who should then array the man whom the king wishes to honour and lead him on horseback through the city square, proclaiming before him: "This is the way a man shall be treated whom the king wishes to honour." '

'Hurry,' the king said to Haman, 'take the robes and the horse, and do everything you have just said to Mordecai the Jew, who works at the Chancellery. On no account leave out anything that you have mentioned.'

So taking the robes and the horse, Haman arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, proclaiming before him: 'This is the way a man shall be treated whom the king wishes to honour.'

After this Mordecai returned to the Chancellery, while Haman went hurrying home in dejection and covering his face.

He told his wife Zeresh and all his friends what had just happened. His wife Zeresh and his friends said, 'You are beginning to fall, and Mordecai to rise; if he is Jewish, you will never get the better of him. With him against you, your fall is certain.'

While they were still talking, the king's officers arrived in a hurry to escort Haman to the banquet that Esther was giving.

The king and Haman went to Queen Esther's banquet,

and this second day, during the banquet, the king again said to Esther, 'Tell me your request, Queen Esther. I grant it to you. Whatever you want; even if it is half my kingdom, it is yours for the asking.'

'If I have found favour in your eyes, O king,' Queen Esther replied, 'and if it please your majesty, grant me my life -- that is my request; and the lives of my people -- that is what I want.

For we have been handed over, my people and I, to destruction, slaughter and annihilation; had we merely been sold as slaves and servant-girls, I should not have said anything; but in the present case, it will be beyond the persecutor's means to make good the loss that the king is about to sustain.'

King Ahasuerus interrupted Queen Esther, 'Who is this man?' he exclaimed. 'Where is the man who has thought of doing such a thing?'

Esther replied, 'The persecutor, the enemy? Why, this wretch Haman!' Haman quaked with terror in the presence of the king and queen.

In a rage the king got up from the banquet and went into the palace garden; while Haman, realising that the king was determined on his ruin, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.

When the king came back from the palace garden into the banqueting hall, he found Haman sprawled across the couch where Esther was reclining. 'What!' the king exclaimed. 'Is he going to rape the queen in my own palace?' The words were scarcely out of his mouth than a veil was thrown over Haman's face.

In the royal presence, Harbona, one of the officers, said, 'There is that fifty-cubit gallows, too, which Haman ran up for Mordecai, who spoke up to the king's great advantage. It is all ready at his house.' 'Hang him on it,' said the king.

So Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had erected for Mordecai, and the king's wrath subsided.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Haman feels proud for having been the sole invitee with the king to Queen Esther’s banquet. His disdain for Mordecai increases even more. He feels sure of having the king’s backing and trusts solely in himself and in his vengeful plans. His wife, Zeresh, a woman different than both queen Vashti and Esther, is bland and unwittingly serves as the accomplice of her husband and his friends. Haman prepares everything for Mordecai’s murder. But "that night the king could not sleep" (6:1). And he asks that the chronicles of the events of the kingdom be read to him. He realizes then that he has failed to reward Mordecai for having disclosed the plot to him. He thus calls Haman and asks him what it would be good to do for a man that the king wants to honour. Haman is so full of himself that he can only think of himself; it does not even cross his mind that the king could be thinking of someone else. He thus tells the king how to honour the man whom the king is thinking about, and he finds that he should render homage to "Mordecai, of the Jewish people." It is the reversal of fortunes: "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted," Scripture often repeats. Haman had thought of himself as master of the events - he believed he could manipulate the king as he wished and he finds himself to be the last of the servants. Pride and hatred have blinded him. Haman, after the homage to Mordecai, takes refuge in his house full of shame and humiliated before his friends, but he must go with the king to Esther’s banquet. The latter, who seems not to know what has happened, speaks openly to the king asking for life for herself and the salvation of her people, not without noting that extermination would have been an economic disadvantage for the king. When the king asks: "Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?" (7:5), the queen replies: Haman. At this point the king is seized by wrath and goes into the garden. Haman, gripped by fear, leans on Esther’s couch to ask her to spare his life, but upon seeing this, the king thinks that he wants to "assault the queen in my presence" (7:8), and he condemns him to the same punishment that he had prepared for Mordecai. Pride and anger lead not to victory but to defeat and death.

Memory of Jesus crucified

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