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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

2 Samuel 11,1-4.5-10.13-17

At the turn of the year, at the time when kings go campaigning, David sent Joab and with him his guards and all Israel. They massacred the Ammonites and laid siege to Rabbah-of-the-Ammonites. David, however, remained in Jerusalem. It happened towards evening when David had got up from resting and was strolling on the palace roof, that from the roof he saw a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David made enquiries about this woman and was told, 'Why, that is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite.' David then sent messengers to fetch her. She came to him, and he lay with her, just after she had purified herself from her period. She then went home again. The woman conceived and sent word to David, 'I am pregnant.' David then sent word to Joab, 'Send me Uriah the Hittite,' whereupon Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah reached him, David asked how Joab was and how the army was and how the war was going. David then said to Uriah, 'Go down to your house and wash your feet.' Uriah left the palace and was followed by a present from the king's table. Uriah, however, slept at the palace gate with all his master's bodyguard and did not go down to his house. This was reported to David; 'Uriah', they said 'has not gone down to his house.' So David asked Uriah, 'Haven't you just arrived from the journey? Why didn't you go down to your house?' The next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk. In the evening, Uriah went out and bedded down with his master's bodyguard, but did not go down to his house. Next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by Uriah. In the letter he wrote, 'Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest and then fall back, so that he gets wounded and killed.' Joab, then besieging the city, stationed Uriah at a point where he knew that there would be tough fighters. The people of the city sallied out and engaged Joab; there were casualties in the army, among David's guards, and Uriah the Hittite was killed as well.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The text tells of David’s humiliating sin. His sin was not the result of a single act, but of a guilty chain of events that slipped lower and lower into the abyss of murder: temptation, giving in, adultery, betrayal of one of his bravest officers, cynicism, pretence and then the injustice perpetrated. These are the stages that show the boundless capacity of the human heart to commit evil if it is not vigilant and ready to break the chain of temptation. The tragic event begins with the king’s desire to pass the spring in leisure, a time when kings usually go to war (v. 1). While he sends his army to combat the Ammonites, he remains in Jerusalem to enjoy his rest. This is the first stage of temptation. Choosing to think of his own satisfaction leads David to start down the path of sin. He stops to watch a woman taking a ritual bath (v. 3), it pleases him and then, blinded, he disregards everything in order to have her: God, who favoured him, his status as the anointed leader of his nation, and the evil that it will cause him and others. The situation was also enormously troublesome in the eyes of the law, from which even the king could not escape, because adulterers were punished by death (Lev 20, 10; Deut 22:22). David, coming to know that Bathsheba is pregnant, tries to remedy what he has done at any cost. But his heart is hardened; he does not think of God or of others. He is moved only by the urgency to save himself from this difficult situation. And he puts his plan into action: to take her for his wife and send the husband, one of his oldest and most faithful friends, into battle to die. Never before has the Bible described so vividly the tragic reality of a man so afraid to take responsibility that he seeks to free himself of the weight that burdens him, giving no mind to committing further injustices that will harm innocent people in order to save himself. What emerges instead is the nobility of Uriah’s sentiments. He does not want to enjoy the comforts offered to him by David so that he would lie with his wife and avoid the scandal of an illegitimate child. Uriah, returning from the front, does not want to return home and instead spends the night at the gates of the palace to share in the fate of his soldiers on the front. Uriah’s behaviour is in stark contrast with the blindness of David who is now overwhelmed by sin and the concern of saving himself. David, completely disturbed, feels he has no other choice but to eliminate Uriah. In this way he continues to slip deeper into sin. He writes a short and cold letter to Joab with clear orders to let Uriah die on the battlefield. Uriah will die (v. 17) and David takes Bathsheba as his wife and she gives him a son. But, what David did displeased the Lord. He could hide the gravity of his crime from others, but not from God, who "looks on the heart" (1 Sam 16:7).

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