Sunday Vigil

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Memory of Saint Anthony the Abbot. He followed the Lord into the Egyptian desert and was father of many monks. A day of reflection on the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Hebrews 4, 12-16

The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts more incisively than any two-edged sword: it can seek out the place where soul is divided from spirit, or joints from marrow; it can pass judgement on secret emotions and thoughts.

No created thing is hidden from him; everything is uncovered and stretched fully open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must hold firm to our profession of faith.

For the high priest we have is not incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us, but has been put to the test in exactly the same way as ourselves, apart from sin.

Let us, then, have no fear in approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace when we are in need of help.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The author - this singular preacher - praises the Word of God, which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” It understands us much better than we understand ourselves. This is why believers are invited to entrust themselves to it if they want to understand the depths of their own heart. They are invited to listen to it if they want to experience peace and salvation for themselves and for the world. In Scripture, in fact, it is God himself who speaks to his people. And he continues to speak to us today. The Word of God is light for our steps and for the steps of all who let themselves be enlightened: “And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.” Of course when we listen to the Word of God and let it penetrate and cut our soul, it divides it, because it makes us see the evil that we do and the good that we do not pursue. But those who agree to become disciples of the Word and change their lives to make them more similar to the feelings of God find mercy, that is forgiveness, great joy, and friendship with God and others. The second part of the passage contains a statement made by the preacher to encourage his Christian readers, who are experiencing a difficult moment in their lives because of the fierce opposition of an environment that is hostile to the Gospel. The author points out that they “have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens.” The title of “high priest,” which has already been ascribed to Jesus (2:17), is now developed more fully. Believers must strengthen their faith in God's help. This is why they are invited to approach the Lord faithfully and without fear: they are certainly heard, because they have a “high priest” who understands them; indeed he is full of compassion and knows how to present the lives of his disciples to God when they are more difficult. Jesus knows our difficulties and our weaknesses because “in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.” His compassion for us, the Letter insists, comes from the fact that he came to live among us and experienced our weakness, other than sin, in his own flesh. But he has not scorned us. Rather, he took on our weakness in order to free us from it. We could say that he has understood our weakness from within. And, in his compassion, he brought it with his body into heaven. This is why the author says: “Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness.” Not only will God hear us, he will help and aid us. The author places Jesus in the line of priests, who receive this ministry through their family. He does not place him among the descendants of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets, but among the descendants of Aaron. Jesus was established as priest by inheriting this ministry from God, by whom he was generated as son.