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 16, 1-14

In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign, Baasha king of Israel marched on Judah and fortified Ramah to block the communications of Asa king of Judah.

Asa then took silver and gold from the treasuries of the Temple of Yahweh and the royal palace and sent this with the following message to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus,

'Let us make an alliance between me and you, between my father and your father! Look, I have sent you silver and gold. Come, break off your alliance with Baasha king of Israel, which will make him withdraw from me.'

Ben-Hadad listened favourably to King Asa and sent the generals of his armies to attack the towns of Israel; he ravaged Ijon, Dan, Abel-Maim and all the storage towns of Naphtali.

When Baasha heard this he gave up fortifying Ramah, abandoning this work.

King Asa then had all Judah carry away the stones and timber with which Baasha had been fortifying Ramah, and used them to fortify Geba and Mizpah.

Then it was that Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said, 'Because you relied on the king of Aram and not on Yahweh your God, the king of Aram's army will slip through your fingers.

Did not the Cushites and Libyans form a vast army with great numbers of chariots and cavalry? Even so, because you relied on Yahweh, he gave you the upper hand;

for Yahweh's eyes rove to and fro across the whole world to support those whose hearts are loyal to him. You have acted like a fool in this respect; hence, from now on you will have wars.'

Enraged with the seer, Asa had him put in the stocks in prison, being angry with him over this; at the same time Asa ill-treated some of the people too.

The history of Asa, from first to last, is recorded in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

In the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa contracted a disease in his feet, which became very severe; in his illness, however, he consulted not Yahweh but the doctors.

Asa then fell asleep with his ancestors, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.

He was buried in the tomb which he had ordered to be cut for him in the City of David. He was laid in the burial chamber which was filled with perfume blended from all sorts of oils, and a very great funeral fire was made for him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In the thirty-sixth year of the reign, after a long period of quiet and peace for the southern kingdom, the Chronicler reports a new conflict for Asa. The king of the North, Baasha, attacks him and advances as far as Ramah which is only few kilometres north of Jerusalem. He fortified the town to control the northern pilgrims’ way to the Temple (v.1). Asa reacts and asks Ben-Hadàd, king of Damascus, for help. He appeals to an old treaty between their two kingdoms; he also sends gold and silver from the treasuries of the temple. Thus he relies on the protection of the king of Damascus. His diplomatic mission is successful. Ben-Hadad invades the northern territories, so Baashamust flee from the fortified Ramah. King Asa’s army takes again possession of Ramah. He commands to use the stone and wood with which Baasha had been fortifying Ramah and fortify Geba and Mizpah. Everything seems to be for the best. Yet Asa’s solution is not only a diplomatic move, but a true act of lack of faith. The prophet Hanani elucidates Asa his sin: “Because you relied on the king of Aram, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Aram has escaped you … You have done foolishly in this; for from now on you will have wars” (v. 7- 9). The prophet reminds the king that all the previous victories were God’s doing, not of his ability. “And yet, because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand” (v. 8). The prophet’s words recall Isaiah’s words to Ahaz, who, in a similar situation, relied on the Assyrian army to break free from the invasion of the kingdom of the North and of Syria: “If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all” (Is 7:9b), said Isaiah. From now on Asa will pay the consequences for having requested human, even foreign, help. He will have continuous wars (v.9). The king did not listen to the words of the prophet nor did he repent; indeed, he got angry with the prophet and, as happened to Jeremiah (see Jer 20), he sent him to prison together with other people, who had probably criticized his conduct (v. 10). Pride prevails on the awareness of sin. When our pride prevails, it is easy to withdraw into oneself and to stray from God’s love and forgiveness. Asa’s disease weakens him even more. He doesn’t accept to seek God humbly any longer. And, even if he has lived for many years as an obedient son of the Lord and has enjoyed his benevolence, he let his heart grow hard. Even in his disease he forgets the Lord. Obviously asking the doctors for help isn’t a mistake. His sin is to stray from the Lord even in his disease, without trusting in Him. This is something every believer must learn. Only if we are humble and aware of being always in need, we are able to recognize the Lord, the only saviour of our lives.