Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Thessalonians 2, 17-3,11

Although we had been deprived of you for only a short time in body but never in affection, brothers, we had an especially strong desire and longing to see you face to face again,

and we tried hard to come and visit you; I, Paul, tried more than once, but Satan prevented us.

What do you think is our hope and our joy, and what our crown of honour in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?

You are, for you are our pride and joy.

When we could not bear it any longer, we decided it would be best to be left without a companion at Athens,

and sent our brother Timothy, who is God's helper in spreading the gospel of Christ, to keep you firm and encourage you about your faith

and prevent any of you from being unsettled by the present hardships. As you know, these are bound to come our way:

indeed, when we were with you, we warned you that we are certain to have hardships to bear, and that is what has happened now, as you have found out.

That is why, when I could not bear it any longer, I sent to assure myself of your faith: I was afraid the Tester might have put you to the test, and all our work might have been pointless.

However, Timothy has returned from you and has given us good news of your faith and your love, telling us that you always remember us with pleasure and want to see us quite as much as we want to see you.

And so, brothers, your faith has been a great encouragement to us in the middle of our own distress and hardship;

now we can breathe again, as you are holding firm in the Lord.

How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account?

We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.

May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, ease our path to you.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul had taken leave of the community at a moment when it still had need of his pastoral guidance. For him it was like being torn from his children. His was a love from the gut, passionate; like that of a father. And, even though he does not mention the obstacles which did not allow him to return, he writes, "Satan blocked our way." Paul is aware, because of numerous dramatic personal experiences, that apostolic work is in actuality a real battle against Satan. Like any other disciple, he too is called to take sides so that God prevails over the adversary. And he turns his gaze towards the "glorious coming" of the Lord (1:10), when final victory will be completed. Then, he writes, there shall be a great feast (4:13-18). It is the day of the "coming" of Christ. The believer, therefore, should fix his gaze straight ahead towards that day, when Jesus shall fully submit the enemy to his sovereign power. In the meantime, each one of us takes possession of salvation in the measure in which he accomplishes the mission Jesus has given him. Paul knows that his own salvation will be accomplished if he brings to fruition the proclamation of the Gospel to the pagans. It is in this context that we can understand his worry as preacher: "Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!"(1 Cor 9:16). It is thus -or rather, it should be thus- for every disciple of Christ, and above all for every shepherd (for anyone who has a responsibility in the Christian community): each person’s salvation is tied to the preaching of the Gospel. Paul awaits the future with hope because even now he can present to Jesus the communities he has engendered. He bases his "hope" of salvation on this. He writes to the Corinthians: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain" (1 Cor 15:l0). From this comes his joy. We should not let ourselves fall into resignation or discouragement because of our sins. The Lord will give us his grace so that we raise our gaze toward our brothers and sisters and spend our lives for them and for the sake of the Gospel.