Sunday Vigil

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Memory of Joseph of Arimathaea, disciple of the Lord who "awaited the kingdom of God."

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

1 Timothy 5, 1-16

Never speak sharply to a man older than yourself, but appeal to him as you would to your own father; treat younger men as brothers,

older women as mothers and young women as sisters with all propriety.

Be considerate to widows -- if they really are widowed.

If a widow has children or grandchildren, they are to learn first of all to do their duty to their own families and repay their debt to their parents, because this is what pleases God.

But a woman who is really widowed and left on her own has set her hope on God and perseveres night and day in petitions and prayer.

The one who thinks only of pleasure is already dead while she is still alive:

instruct them in this, too, so that their lives may be blameless.

Anyone who does not look after his own relations, especially if they are living with him, has rejected the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Enrolment as a widow is permissible only for a woman at least sixty years old who has had only one husband.

She must be a woman known for her good works -- whether she has brought up her children, been hospitable to strangers and washed the feet of God's holy people, helped people in hardship or been active in all kinds of good work.

Do not accept young widows because if their natural desires distract them from Christ, they want to marry again,

and then people condemn them for being unfaithful to their original promise.

Besides, they learn how to be idle and go round from house to house; and then, not merely idle, they learn to be gossips and meddlers in other people's affairs and to say what should remain unsaid.

I think it is best for young widows to marry again and have children and a household to look after, and not give the enemy any chance to raise a scandal about them;

there are already some who have turned aside to follow Satan.

If a woman believer has widowed relatives, she should support them and not make the Church bear the expense but enable it to support those who are really widowed.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

With just one sentence Paul tells Timothy how he should act with the different members of the community. The responsibility of leadership is not to be exercised with cold authority, but as a service performed in the "family of God," that is, with a spirit of fraternity that moves the pastor to turn his attention to each one of the faithful according to his or her needs. Jesus himself called his disciples "brothers," "sisters," and "mothers," teaching them to think of each other as a true family. And the first Christian community had indeed learned to live with "one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32), that is, in a fraternal and attentive way. If it is necessary to correct an older man, Timothy needs to do it, but reverently, as he would his father, and if it is an older woman, he needs to speak to her as he would to his mother. He needs to act in the same way with those who are younger, treating them as brothers and sisters. In the same way Timothy needs to behave with the young, that is, considering them as brothers and sisters; with the young women his bearing will be prudent and reserved. Expanding the fourth commandment, Paul urges his readers to "honour" the widows, continuing the uninterrupted tradition of the Old Testament that includes widows among God’s beloved, together with orphans and foreigners. Elderly women need to be taken care of by their children and grandchildren, or else these latter will have "denied the faith," Paul insists, that is, they will have failed to keep the commandment of love. The apostle then asks Timothy to pay attention to those who cannot look after themselves and help them lead a life that is not self-indulgent or sinful. Special attention needs to be given to the widows who have decided to serve the community. Registered on an official "list", these women must be more than sixty years old, they must only have been married once, and they must be generous in performing services such as the education of children (especially orphans) and the practice of hospitality. Paul reminds also of the gesture of "washing the saints’ feet," recalling the act by which Jesus had shown the disciples the need to become humble servants of one another. From the apostle’s instructions emerges the clear link between the spirit of fraternity lived out in the community and the service of love to those who are poorer.