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

Isaiah 7, 10-14

Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said:

Ask Yahweh your God for a sign, either in the depths of Sheol or in the heights above.

But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask. I will not put Yahweh to the test.'

He then said: Listen now, House of David: are you not satisfied with trying human patience that you should try my God's patience too?

The Lord will give you a sign in any case: It is this: the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

We are on the threshold of Christmas and the liturgy offers this passage from the prophet Isaiah. It is about the year 735 B.C. when Ahaz, the young king of Jerusalem, who is weak and leads a dissolute life, feels his throne threatened by the presence of enemy armies pressing on the borders of the kingdom of Judah. He wonders what he should do, but without much conviction and he tries saving the kingdom by making alliances with the neighbouring kingdom of Assyria. The prophet Isaiah speaks and proposes that he entrust himself completely to God, who never abandons his people. He strongly urges Ahaz to ask for a visible sign. But the king replies: “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” In truth, Ahaz is not a timid king; one who does not dare put the Lord to the test. He is rather a man who no longer trusts in the Lord and who no longer believes that the Lord, God of his Ancestors, can intervene and free the people from the enemy besieging Jerusalem and causing the people to suffer from hunger. He believes that his plan will prove to be the winner. This is the logical consequence of someone who lets personal ambition, pride, and individual goals grow in his heart. Faith is repulsed and personal conviction is reinforced. But by following this path, one hurts not only him or herself but others too. This is why, at this point, the Prophet - sent by God to indicate His ways - raises his voice and denounces the king's hypocrisy and presumed religiosity based more on himself than on the Lord. He adds that, despite the king's refusal, God will give his people a sign: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Christian spiritual tradition has always read these words as referring to Jesus. He is truly Immanuel, which means “God with us.” The passage from Luke's Gospel, which the liturgy has us read today, fully illuminates this ancient prophecy and shows God's faithfulness towards his people. Through the angel's annunciation, Mary became the first of the believers, the cradle of the Son sent by the Father to save those who will believe in him and through them all the people of the earth. As we approach the celebration of Christmas, let us thank the Lord that we are part of this mystery of love that is freely given to us.