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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

1 Samuel 18,6-9; 19,1-7

On their return, when David was coming back from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel singing and dancing to meet King Saul, with tambourines, sistrums and cries of joy; and as they danced the women sang: Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands. Saul was very angry; the incident displeased him. 'They have given David the tens of thousands,' he said, 'but me only the thousands; what more can he have, except the throne?' And Saul watched David jealously from that day onwards. Saul let his son Jonathan and all his servants know of his intention to kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, held David in great affection; and Jonathan warned David, 'My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you, so be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding, stay out of sight. I shall go out and keep my father company in the countryside where you will be, and shall talk to my father about you; I shall see what the situation is and then tell you.' Jonathan spoke highly of David to Saul his father and said, 'The king should not harm his servant David; far from harming you, what he has done has been greatly to your advantage. He took his life in his hands, he killed the Philistine, and Yahweh brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw for yourself. How pleased you were! Why then sin against innocent blood by killing David for no reason?' Saul was impressed by Jonathan's words. Saul swore, 'As Yahweh lives, I will not kill him.' Jonathan called David and told him all this. Jonathan then brought him to Saul, and David remained in attendance as before.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The text opens with one of the most beautiful descriptions of friendship found in the Bible, the one between David and Jonathan. From their first meeting the two feel immediately "connected" to each other for life. Their friendship reaches a level where they identify with one another. This is the meaning of the "covenant" established between them. Jonathan giving his clothes and armour to David is demonstrating more than just a generous act on the part of a prince toward the young pastor who has neither clothes appropriate for the court nor armour suitable for battle. Jonathan recognizes himself in David in an everlasting bond. Saul also delights in David for his success in the military missions he continues to give to him. The young leader’s fame grows increasingly larger. After the military exploits, there is always a great reception, certainly for Saul, but especially for David. A song sings of "thousands" and "tens of thousands" celebrating Saul as much as David. The king, noticing the people’s remarkable enthusiasm for David, feels jealous and begins to suspect that David could be a threat, even more, a competitor. Stricken by fear, he thinks that the young warrior may dethrone him. No one, except Samuel, of course, knows what the Lord already decided. Saul has no clue about God’s decision regarding David, and so is fearful and suspicious. Indeed his suspicions are true, but not for the reasons he thinks; he sees what is happening, but does not know of God’s decision; he is in danger, not because of any presumed ambition on David’s part, but because of God’s purpose. Saul, however, needs David because he is the only one who helps him in his illness. But jealousy gnaws at him and the idea to kill David to alleviate his pain comes to him in a dream. Subsequently, he sends David on more dangerous missions that result only in bringing David more success, in gaining more favour from the people. To remove him, Saul wants David to marry his daughter Merab in return for a dangerous battle in which Saul hopes that David will be killed. This strategy seems to anticipate the same that David will later propose to Uriah (2 Sam 11:4-17). The plan fails. David can marry Saul’s second daughter provided he can bring back a trophy of one hundred Philistine foreskins, a dangerous enterprise David completes easily. His victory earns him even more popularity among the people while Saul fades away more and more. Throughout this entire story, David never takes initiative, deciding what to do or where to go. It is clear that the sacred author wants to eliminate any temptation in David of being the protagonist, a temptation we often cave into for enterprises much inferior to those done by David. The real protagonist is God who, after having abandoned Saul for his disobedience, chose to continue leading his people with David. By now, Saul is convinced that David is an intolerable threat. If earlier he wanted to try to eliminate him discreetly, now he wants to do it openly. He shares his intention in confidence with his son Jonathan, who "took great delight" in David (v. 1). Jonathan should have been in agreement with his father, if not for reasons of blood, then at least for his own sake as David will take his throne from him. But Jonathan, because of his love for David, goes against his father and his own interests. He tells David what his father plans to do and urges him to go off to a secluded place. He then intercedes on David’s behalf to Saul, saying that he is not only bold and brave, but has acted in good faith towards him. Saul, for the moment, allows himself to be convinced and promises that he will not kill David (v. 6), who is then reinstated in the court (v. 7). David then wins another battle against the Philistines (v. 8), but Saul burns with envy instead of rejoicing. He is now so obsessed he is unable to make any reasonable judgment about what is good for his throne. An "evil spirit" possesses Saul and he throws a lance at David, but he misses and hits the wall instead. By now the king’s heart is completely consumed by murderous instincts. He decides to kill David the following morning when he comes out of his house. David’s wife, Michal, knowing the king’s intentions, let David down out the window so he could escape. God stops Saul’s every attempt to carry out his plans.

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