Prayer for peace

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The prayer for peace is held in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.
Memorial of Saint Anthony the Abbot(+356). He followed the Lord into the Egyptian desert and was father of many monks. A day of reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.


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

1 Samuel 15,16-23

Samuel then said to Saul, 'Stop! Let me tell you what Yahweh said to me last night.' He said, 'Go on.' Samuel said, 'Small as you may be in your own eyes, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? Yahweh has anointed you as king of Israel. When Yahweh sent you on a mission he said to you, "Go and put those sinners, the Amalekites, under the curse of destruction and make war on them until they are exterminated." Why then did you not obey Yahweh's voice? Why did you fall on the booty and do what is wrong in Yahweh's eyes?' Saul replied to Samuel, 'But I did obey Yahweh's voice. I went on the mission which Yahweh gave me; I brought back Agag king of the Amalekites; I put Amalek under the curse of destruction; and from the booty the people have taken the best sheep and cattle of what was under the curse of destruction only to sacrifice them to Yahweh your God in Gilgal.' To which, Samuel said: Is Yahweh pleased by burnt offerings and sacrifices or by obedience to Yahweh's voice? Truly, obedience is better than sacrifice, submissiveness than the fat of rams. Rebellion is a sin of sorcery, presumption a crime of idolatry! 'Since you have rejected Yahweh's word, he has rejected you as king.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Samuel reminds Saul the meaning of his royal anointing: "to listen" (that is, to obey, shema) to the Lord (v. 1). After this appeal to listen, Samuel orders Saul to destroy the Amalekites, sparing nothing. The command is difficult to comprehend if one understands it outside the mentality of the time, from the context that reveals the radicalism of God's action. Saul obeys and defeats the Amalekites, but, in part to please his people, he does not carry out to the letter the mandate for mass destruction. The Lord regrets his choice to make Saul king and nullifies the decision because he disobeyed. Saul can still occupy the throne, but he is no longer a king obedient to the Lord and not even the king of Samuel. In the meeting between Samuel and Saul after the battle, Saul tries to declare his loyalty to the Lord. Samuel, however, knows the truth, and cunningly asks Saul the meaning of the bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle that reaches his ears. Saul tries to defend himself and blames his people for taking the spoils. Here we find again the perverse logic of accusing others in order to defend oneself. It is a logic we all know well and that poisons the relations among people and nations. Samuel rejects Saul's defence and accuses him of disobedience. He also reminds him that he owes everything to the Lord who had chosen and anointed him so that he would listen only to his voice and obey him alone. Saul, who chose to listen, does it only to a certain extent. Samuel reminds him of the correctness of the relation with God: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams" (v. 22). At this point Saul's reaction is more sincere and he admits that he listened to the people and not to the Lord (nor to Samuel). But it is not enough. The Lord's verdict is final. Saul acknowledges once more his sin, and pleads with Samuel permission to save face in front of the elders of "my people." Samuel listens to him, but Saul's religiosity is marked by such a profound disobedience to God that it renders ineffective the Word of God.