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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memory of Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death, brought to Rome where he died a martyr (†107).

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 Maccabees 4, 1-25

Gorgias took with him five thousand foot and a thousand picked cavalry, and the force moved off by night

with the object of attacking the Jewish position and dealing them an unexpected blow; the men from the Citadel were there to guide him.

Judas got wind of it and himself moved off with his fighters to strike at the royal army at Emmaus,

while its fighting troops were still dispersed outside the camp.

Hence, when Gorgias reached Judas' camp, he found no one and began looking for the Jews in the mountains. 'For', he said, 'we have got them on the run.'

First light found Judas in the plain with three thousand men, although these lacked the armour and swords they would have wished.

They could now see the gentile encampment with its strong fortifications and cavalry surrounding it, clearly people who understood warfare.

Judas said to his men, 'Do not be afraid of their numbers, and do not flinch at their attack.

Remember how our ancestors were delivered at the Red Sea when Pharaoh was pursuing them in force.

And now let us call on Heaven: if he cares for us, he will remember his covenant with our ancestors and will destroy this army confronting us today;

then all the nations will know for certain that there is One who ransoms and saves Israel.'

The foreigners looked up and, seeing the Jews advancing against them,

came out of the camp to join battle. Judas' men sounded the trumpet

and engaged them. The gentiles were defeated and fled towards the plain

and all the stragglers fell by the sword. The pursuit continued as far as Gezer and the plains of Idumaea, Azotus and Jamnia, and the enemy lost about three thousand men.

Breaking off the pursuit, Judas returned with his men

and said to the people, 'Never mind the booty, for we have another battle ahead of us.

Gorgias and his troops are still near us in the mountains. First stand up to our enemies and fight them, and then you can safely collect the booty.'

The words were hardly out of Judas' mouth, when a detachment came into view, peering down from the mountain.

Observing that their own troops had been routed and that the camp had been fired -- since the smoke, which they could see, attested the fact-

they were panic-stricken at the sight; and when, furthermore, they saw Judas' troops drawn up for battle on the plain,

they all fled into Philistine territory.

Judas then turned back to plunder the camp, and a large sum in gold and silver, with violet and sea-purple stuffs, and many other valuables were carried off.

On their return, the Jews chanted praises to Heaven, singing, 'He is kind and his love is everlasting!'

That day had seen a remarkable deliverance in Israel.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The passage tells of the battle that took place at Emmaus, between the strong army of King Antiochus and the small army of Judah. Gorgias, who led the army of the enemy, informed of the arrival of the Jews, tried to surprise them in their camp south of Emmaus with a portion of his army, including some who came from Jerusalem (the men of Akra, [the citadel]). But Judah, in turn, informed of Gorgias’ movement, thought it was the right moment to attack the bulk of the Syrian troops left in the camp without their leader. He knew that the power of numbers was on the side of the enemy, but he was conscious of the help of the Lord. For this he turned to his men exhorting them not to be afraid, not because they had sufficient forces to prevail the enemy army, but because the Lord, faithful to his covenant with his people since the liberation from the slavery by the Egyptians, would not abandon them in the hands of the opposing army. He said, “Do not fear their numbers or be afraid when they charge. Remember how our ancestors were saved at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh with his forces pursued them.” He then urged them to cry to Heaven, so that the Lord will “favour [them] and remember his covenant with [their] ancestors and crush this army before [them] today. Then all the Gentiles will know that there is one who redeems and saves Israel.” The issue was not simply the victory of Judas as much as the recognition of the power of the Lord, who, freeing and saving Israel, shows his covenant with his people and his almighty power over all other gods. The passage closes saying that the day was “of great deliverance.” In fact, the Lord had defeated the mighty Syrian army with the much weaker army of Judah. It is yet another confirmation of the logic that crosses all the pages of Scripture and that will make the apostle Paul write to the Christians of Corinth: “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:26-29). Even today, facing the great challenges before us, it is necessary to rediscover the ancient faith of the Fathers and live it with the same intensity.

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