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

Tobit 12, 1.5-15.20

When the wedding feast was over, Tobit called his son Tobias and said, 'My son, you ought to think about paying the amount due to your fellow traveller; give him more than the figure agreed on.'

So Tobias called his companion and said, 'Take half of what you brought back, in payment for all you have done, and go in peace.'

Then Raphael took them both aside and said, 'Bless God, utter his praise before all the living for the favour he has shown you. Bless and extol his name. Proclaim before all people the deeds of God as they deserve, and never tire of giving him thanks.

It is right to keep the secret of a king, yet right to reveal and publish the works of God as they deserve. Do what is good, and no evil can befall you.

'Prayer with fasting and alms with uprightness are better than riches with iniquity. Better to practise almsgiving than to hoard up gold.

Almsgiving saves from death and purges every kind of sin. Those who give alms have their fill of days;

those who commit sin and do evil bring harm on themselves.

'I am going to tell you the whole truth, hiding nothing from you. I have already told you that it is right to keep the secret of a king, yet right too to reveal in a worthy way the words of God.

So you must know that when you and Sarah were at prayer, it was I who offered your supplications before the glory of the Lord and who read them; so too when you were burying the dead.

When you did not hesitate to get up and leave the table to go and bury a dead man, I was sent to test your faith,

and at the same time God sent me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah.

I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand ever ready to enter the presence of the glory of the Lord.'

Now bless the Lord on earth and give thanks to God. I am about to return to him who sent me from above. Write down all that has happened.' And he rose in the air.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Chapter 12 begins with a remarkable display of honesty and generosity by Tobit and Tobias towards Azariah-Raphael. But then it is Raphael who does the talking. He takes them aside, as if to signify that he wants to go down to the depths of their hearts, and he shows them the beauty and strength of prayer when it is combined with almsgiving and fasting. His words are not simple moral exhortations, but directions for a path that leads to salvation in the here and now. Prayer and the practice of charity are what saved and protected them: “Do good, and evil will not overtake you. Prayer with fasting is good, but better than both is almsgiving with righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than wealth with wrongdoing. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold. For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life, but those who commit sin and do wrong are their own worst enemies” (v. 8-10).This teaching still needs to be carefully safeguarded and observed today, seeing that many people have lost all sense of its centrality. We need to pray to the Lord not only for ourselves, but also for everyone: the angel of the Lord will carry our prayer all the way to the altar of heaven. And almsgiving, which reveals the beginning of mercy, will be generously repaid by God: the angels will accompany us on our path, and the joy of the poor will be like a viaticum (Note of the Translator: spiritual support) of grace for us. It is not by chance that Raphael reveals his identity precisely when he is talking about prayer and fasting: “So now, when you and Sarah prayed, it was I who brought and read the record of your prayer before the glory of the Lord, and likewise whenever you buried the dead. And that time when you did not hesitate to get up and leave your dinner to go and bury the dead, I was sent to you to test you. And at the same time God sent me to heal you and Sarah, your daughter-in-law” (v. 12-14).At this point he also reveals his name, Raphael, which means “God heals”; he stands before God’s presence and places our prayers and our little acts of mercy on his altar. Tobit and Tobias fall down on the ground in front of the angel, full of fear. Perhaps we too have to rediscover the proper level of fear and respect for those who accompany us as the angel did with Tobias, keeping ourselves away from the temptation to be our own angels. That is the pride of Lucifer, which brought down the angels who wanted to be their own guides. Those who know how to recognize the angels of God at their side can be certain that their prayers and their acts of love will ascend to heaven, just as Raphael ascended, “‘See, I am ascending to him who sent me.’ … And he ascended.”