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

2 Chronicles 6, 21-42

'Listen to the entreaties of your servant and of your people Israel; whenever they pray in this place, listen from the place where you reside in heaven; and when you hear, forgive.

'If someone has wronged his neighbour and a curse is laid on him to make him swear here before your altar in this Temple,

then listen from heaven and do justice between your servants, paying back the guilty one by making him suffer for his conduct, and acquitting the upright by rewarding him as his uprightness deserves.

'If your people Israel are defeated by the enemy because they have sinned against you, but then return to you and acknowledge your name, and pray and seek your favour in this temple,

then listen from heaven; forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the country which you gave to them and their ancestors.

'When the heavens are shut and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray in this place and praise your name and, having been humbled by you, desist from their sin,

then listen from heaven and forgive the sin of your servant and of your people Israel -- for you are constantly showing them the good way which they must follow -- and send rain on your country, which you have given to your people as their heritage.

'Should there be famine in the country, or pestilence, wind-blast or mildew, locust or caterpillar; should their enemy lay siege to their territory; should there be any plague or any disease;

whatever be the prayer or entreaty of any individual, or of all your people Israel, each being aware of his own affliction and pain; when he stretches out his hands towards this Temple,

then listen from heaven where you reside; forgive and, since you know what is in his heart, deal with each as his conduct deserves -- for you alone know what is in the human heart-

so that they may revere you by following your directions, which you gave to our ancestors, throughout their lives on earth.

'Even the foreigner, not belonging to your people Israel but coming from a distant country, attracted by your great name, your mighty hand and outstretched arm, if he comes and prays in this Temple,

then listen from heaven where you reside, and grant all that the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may acknowledge your name and, like your people Israel, revere you, and know that this Temple, which I have built, bears your name.

'If your people go out to war against their enemies, on whatever mission you send them, and they pray to you, turning towards this city which you have chosen and towards the Temple which I have built for your name,

then listen from heaven to their prayer and their entreaty, and uphold their cause.

'When they sin against you -- for there is no one who does not sin -- and you are angry with them and abandon them to the enemy, and their captors carry them off to a country be it far away or near,

if they come to their senses in the country to which they have been taken as captives and pray to you once again in the country of their captivity, saying, "We have sinned, we have acted wrongly and wickedly,"

and turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the country of their captivity to which they have been carried away as captives, and pray, turning towards the country which you gave to their ancestors, towards the city you have chosen, and towards the Temple which I have built for your name,

then listen from heaven where you reside, hear their prayer and entreaties, uphold their cause and forgive your people for having sinned against you.

'Now, O my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to prayer offered in this place.

And now Yahweh God, go up to your resting-place, you and your fortress, the Ark! Let your priests, Yahweh God, be robed in salvation, let your faithful rejoice in what is good!

Yahweh God, do not rebuff your Anointed -- remember the faithful love of your servant David!'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The prayer of Solomon is transformed in this page into a long “prayer of the faithful.” The king asks God to hear the Israelites and all those who from the temple will raise their prayers to heaven. The temple becomes the place of the presence of God because, above all, we must not forget, it is the place of the Ark with the Tablets of the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Therefore it is not to be taken only as a place sacralised by man, but rather as a space sanctified by the presence of God himself. This space, defined and enriched by religious symbols, makes possible the gathering together of the assembly of believers to listen to God himself speaking. In the biblical tradition the convocation of the people by God and a willing­ness to listen to him are determinant. It is the initiative of God. And it is important to underline that the space for prayer is beneficial for the society, for the city where the space is placed. Here the Lord gathers his family, not so that it remains closed in on itself, but so that it may be the leaven of fraternity for the entire city. Thus individualism and self-referentiality are defeated at their root. The temple is the place where the Lord gathers his people to talk to them and make them grow in love. In the temple one can listen to God and speak with him. It is a tradition that the Christian community has inherited and enriched. Solomon asks the Lord to listen to the prayer of his people: “Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray in this place.” He adds: “Hear and forgive.” There is a close relationship between listening to the prayer and forgiveness. Of course, prayer is also praise, thanksgiving, and a call for help to the Lord. But believers can never claim rights or advance claims because we know we are sinners. This is why Solomon asks the Lord that he may be as ready in forgiving as he is in listening. Jesus clarifies this well with the parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector: the first, standing, was boasting of his rights, while the second was staying far off beating his breast. Jesus concludes: “I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled” (Lk 18:14). Solomon, as if wishing to exemplify the most serious and compelling moments for prayer, indicates situations that ought to gather people to invoke God's help: when injustices are committed, when there are droughts, failures, famine, when because of sins that have been committed evil attacks the people. It is a request for forgiveness and, consequently, for the repentance of the people. The reference to the foreigner shows a unique, universalist, opening; even strangers are heard, if they come into the temple and lift up their prayer. Solomon knows that prayer is powerful and efficacious, because the God of Israel is he who guides the history of humankind. Certainly, prayer must be done with all your heart and with the boldness of faith. For this reason he asks: "Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to prayer from this place." Today, the places of prayer are innumerable and scattered in every part of the earth: the Lord never ceases to have his eyes open and his ears atten­tive to the cries of many and to the prayers of his children.