Sunday Vigil

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Memory of the prophet Elijah who was taken into heaven and left his mantle to Elisha.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 8, 1-13

'When that time comes, Yahweh declares, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its chief men, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, will be taken from their tombs.

They will be spread out before the sun, the moon, the whole array of heaven, whom they have loved and served, followed, consulted and worshipped. They will not be gathered or reburied but will be left lying on the surface like dung.

And death will seem preferable to life to all the survivors of this wicked race, wherever I have driven them, Yahweh Sabaoth declares.

'You are to tell them, "Yahweh says this: If someone falls, can he not stand up again? If people stray, can they not turn back?

Why does this people persist in acts of infidelity, why does Jerusalem persist in continuous infidelity? They cling to illusion, they refuse to turn back.

I have listened attentively: they have never said anything like that. Not one repents of wickedness saying: What have I done? Each one keeps returning to the course like a horse charging into battle.

Even the stork in the sky knows the appropriate season; turtledove, swallow and crane observe their time of migration. But my people do not know Yahweh's laws!" '

How can you say, 'We are wise, since we have Yahweh's Law?' Look how it has been falsified by the lying pen of the scribes!

The wise are put to shame, alarmed, caught out because they have rejected Yahweh's word. What price their wisdom now?

So I shall give their wives to other men, their fields to new masters, for, from the least to greatest, they are all greedy for gain; prophet no less than priest, all of them practise fraud.

Without concern they dress the wound of the daughter of my people, saying, 'Peace! Peace!' whereas there is no peace.

They should be ashamed of their loathsome deeds. Not they! They feel no shame, they do not even know how to blush. And so as others fall, they too will fall, will be thrown down when the time for punishing them comes, Yahweh says.

I shall put an end to them, Yahweh declares, no more grapes on the vine, no more figs on the fig tree only withered leaves: I have found them people to trample on them!


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Even after death, there is no peace for those who let themselves be caught up in idolatry. This is the most dishonourable fate that can be imagined; this is the farthest thing from the love for life and from a dignified burial after death. Why are the prophet’s words so harsh? These are not threats or punishments inflicted by God. They are the description of the consequences of people’s choices, lives spent chasing the vanity of idols. The result can only be an ignominious end. However, it is possible to reverse this destiny of death. The Lord always gives people the chance to turn back to him, as we read, “When people fall, do they not get up again? If they go astray, do they not turn back? Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding?” Yes, those who make mistakes can always turn back. But they must think about what they have done, not continue acting as if they are sure that what they are doing is right. The word of God helps us to reflect on ourselves and corrects us. These words are also true for us, “no one repents of wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done!’ All of them turn to their own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle.” We are dominated by habit and instinct. We do not stop to think and so nothing inside or outside of us changes. The wisdom we need to live well comes from faithfully and continuously listening to the word of the Lord. Without this wisdom we remain prisoners of a narrow-minded vision of reality. Once again (see 6:14), Jeremiah repeats the warning: “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace.” How true these words are today! People talk about peace, we try to find peace for ourselves, and we avoid looking at the injustice and violence of society in order to live in tranquillity. We cannot find peace by hiding from the pain of the world and the poor. Instead of being ashamed of the evil that is in us all, we accept everything and justify everything, including evil. We act as if it were normal to do whatever in order to save ourselves and make ourselves safe. The prophet invites us not to be afraid of recognizing the evil that is in us.