Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

2 Kings 22,8-13; 23,1-3

The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the Temple of Yahweh.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. Shaphan the secretary went to the king, reporting furthermore to him as follows, 'Your servants have melted down the silver which was in the Temple and have handed it over to the masters of works attached to the Temple of Yahweh.' Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, 'The priest Hilkiah has given me a book'; and Shaphan read it aloud in the king's presence. On hearing the words of the Book of the Law he tore his clothes. Then the king gave the following order to the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's minister: 'Go and consult Yahweh on behalf of me and the people about the words of the book that has been discovered; for Yahweh's furious wrath has been kindled against us because our ancestors disobeyed the word of Yahweh by not doing what this book says they ought to have done.' The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned to him, and the king went up to the Temple of Yahweh with all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, priests, prophets and the whole populace, high and low. In their hearing he read out the entire contents of the Book of the Covenant discovered in the Temple of Yahweh. The king then, standing on the dais, bound himself by the covenant before Yahweh, to follow Yahweh, to keep his commandments, decrees and laws with all his heart and soul, and to carry out the terms of the covenant as written in this book. All the people pledged their allegiance to the covenant.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Josiah imitates the behaviour of David, "his father," "in everything," taking care of the temple, first of all. It is right at the moment when the king and the scribe, together with everyone else, are immersed in taking care of the temple, that they rediscover, "the book of the law." The text conveys very clearly that it is around this rediscovered book that the entire story of Israel must be reconstructed. The recovered book is read twice, first by Shaphan and then before the king. This passage emphasizes a growing understanding of the contents of the book, as if to underline that it is not enough to read it just once. Understanding of the text grows by reading it. And that is what happens when it is read before the king. The text notes: "When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes." Those words illuminate Josiah's mind with an understanding of Israel's history. The king understood in that moment that at the root of the impoverishment and defeats of his people was distance from the covenant with God. Josiah understood that his and his people's future would be different only if it were founded on the covenant with the Lord, as the rediscovered "book" had asked. He therefore convenes an assembly of the people "both great and small" around the rediscovered Law of God. After reading the passage, Josiah concludes the covenant with the Lord again, committing "to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul." The passage ends noting that, "All the people joined in the covenant."