Sunday Vigil

Share On

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 5, 33-37

'Again, you have heard how it was said to our ancestors, You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord.

But I say this to you, do not swear at all, either by heaven, since that is God's throne;

or by earth, since that is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King.

Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black.

All you need say is "Yes" if you mean yes, "No" if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the Evil One.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the second time Jesus begins with the longer expression, “You have heard that it was said,” opening a second series of examples illustrating true justice. He recalls two precepts from the Old Testament. The first is about making a declaration before God and calling him as a witness of the truth of what is said. The precept said, “You shall not swear falsely” (Lev 19:12). When a person turns to God and calls him as a witness, he or she must be absolutely sincere and truthful, or else he or she will do something that is injurious to God even more than other people. The second precept also touches on the relationship between God and humanity, but from another perspective. When someone makes a promises, it must be kept. Jesus does not deny the two precepts, he deepens them. It is not enough to keep from sinning or being neglectful before God. It is not enough, in fact, to avoid evil. A disciple must have a deep, intimate, and personal relationship with God, such that though observing these two precepts scrupulously, as the Pharisees did, they can still be offensive to God’s holiness. This is why Jesus radically affirms, “But I say to you, do not swear at all.” The very act of swearing like the Pharisees destroys the respect we owe God, who desires our hearts, not the simple observation of precepts with a cold and distant heart. Jesus does not condemn oaths, but affirms that they should not be made when they are inspired by feelings of mistrust. We need to restore trust among men and women, that is, to remove the distrust that demands the addition of an oath, because in such cases the oath itself is invalidated. Unfortunately, today we see mutual trust wither because of the exorbitant growth of our egos, our love for ourselves that makes us distrustful of others. On one hand, Jesus is calling us back to humility, the foundation of our relationships. And truth and frankness follow humility. With a bit of humour, Jesus warns that it is of no use to swear by “your head”, because we do not have the power to make a single hair white or black. On the other hand, however, Jesus emphasizes that the Lord created man and woman, giving them the dignity of speech. This is why Jesus says, “Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” Our words have weight: they should not be vague or ambiguous. Our heart can be seen in our words, as it is for God himself. The evil one tries to increase his power by corrupting our words. Jesus’ disciples must learn to say “yes” to the life that comes from the Gospel and, at the same time, to oppose the proposals that lead to evil for themselves and for others. It is also important to know how to say “no”, that is, to discipline our hearts. We must say “yes” to the Lord who calls, but we must say “no” to the seductive proposals that only seem to offer a glimpse of something good for our lives.