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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of St. John Chrysostom ("golden mouth"), bishop and doctor of the Church (349-407). The most common liturgy of the Byzantine Church takes its name from him.

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

1 Chronicles 9, 1-3.17-34

Thus, all Israel's official genealogies had been entered in the records of the kings of Israel and Judah before they were deported to Babylon for their infidelity.

Now the first citizens to return to their property in their cities were the Israelites, the priests, the Levites and the temple slaves.

In Jerusalem, there settled Judaeans, Benjaminites, Ephraimites and Manassehites.

The gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman and their kinsmen. Shallum was the chief

and is still gatekeeper of the King's Gate to the east. They were the gatekeepers of the camps of the sons of Levi.

Shallum son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, and his brothers belonging to his family, the Korahites, were also in charge of the ministerial service as doorkeepers of the Tent, as their ancestors had been keepers of the entrance to the camp of Yahweh.

Formerly, Phinehas son of Eleazar had been in charge of them -- Yahweh be with him!

Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper at the door of the Tent of Meeting.

All the keepers of the gate at the thresholds were picked men; there were two hundred and twelve of them. They were grouped by relationship in their various villages. These were confirmed in office by David and Samuel the seer because of their dependability.

They and their sons continued in charge as guards of the gates of the Temple of Yahweh, the house of the Tent.

The gatekeepers were assigned to the four sides, east, west, north and south,

and their brothers in their villages were required to assist them from time to time for a week,

since the four head gatekeepers were permanently on duty. They were Levites and were in charge of the accommodation and supplies of the Temple of God.

They spent the night in the precincts of the Temple of God, their duties being to guard it and open it every morning.

Some of them were in charge of the implements of worship, having to count them when they took them out and when they put them away.

Others of them were put in charge of the implements, of all the objects in the sanctuary and of the flour, the wine, the oil, the incense and the perfume.

Members of the priestly caste, however, mixed the ointment for the perfume.

One of the Levites, Mattithiah -- he was the first-born of Shallum the Korahite -- had regular charge of baking operations.

Some of their kinsmen the Kohathites were responsible for the loaves to be set out in rows Sabbath by Sabbath.

In addition, there were the singers, the heads of the levitical families, who were accommodated in the Temple, free of other responsibilities because they were on duty day and night.

Such were the chiefs of the levitical families, according to their relationship; these lived in Jerusalem.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We are at the last chapter of the section that lists the genealogies. The scope of this chapter is to present the ethnic reality of Jerusalem, the city chosen by God as the centre of true, divine worship. Included in the lists are the descendants of Judah and Benjamin, then the priests, the Levites and the gatekeepers of the Temple. In listing those in charge of the service, the author lists the Temple servants, already present in Ezra and Nehemiah, and the oblates and servants of Solomon. Although a recent institution, the author traces its origins to the time of the exodus. During the wandering in the desert, the Israelites had as a sanctuary the "tent of the covenant." Here the Lord would manifest in a descending cloud that blocked access to the tent, and would speak with Moses face to face (Ex 33:9). The author recalls the priest Phinehas (v. 20) and uses an inaugural expression (that later becomes common in Judaism and Islam whenever a person who has passed away is mentioned): "May the Lord be with him!" And yet, this zealous priest came to kill an Israelite who had brought a Midianite into the encampment (Num 25). This conveys the strong sense-even if it is violent and incomprehensible to us today-of the attention that the gatekeepers must have so that the "tent of the covenant" may be protected and not exposed to the risk of being profaned. The author indicates the delicateness of the gatekeepers’ task: to defend not only the entrance of the Temple, but also the boundary line that prevented Israel from mingling with foreigners. To do this, they had to keep the surroundings of the Temple under surveillance, and prepare the utensils of service and the pottery, the items that were to be cooked in the pans, and the twelve loaves of bread that had to be laid out in two before the Lord. This organization of personnel in the Temple was the result of a long process of transformation caused by the centralization of worship in Jerusalem. The city and the Temple became the place chosen by God to establish his name, as is repeated many times in Deuteronomy. The tribe of Levi, tasked with serving the Temple, does not have a territory, and is dispersed among the different tribes. They receive their sustenance from offerings brought to the Temple (animal sacrifices, first fruits or the tenth part of the harvest) and live off of a personal tax. Chronicles links the organization of worship in the Temple to David, and through him, to God Himself. The gatekeepers call all of the redeemed to participate in the life of the Temple, or in the life of the community of believers, which is the true temple of God. This place, sanctified by God’s very presence, calls each believer to be a "gatekeeper" who helps the life of the community and defends it from whoever wants to lay traps to it. It is a call to be responsible for everyone. The safekeeping of and attention to the "temple of God" is not a task for only a few, but is the responsibility of all. The apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Do you not know that you are God’s temple?" (1 Cor 3:16). The attention given to the "temple" coincides with that of the community of believers. It is in the community of believers that God makes his presence known in the world in a visible way.

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