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

Leviticus 25, 1.8-17

Yahweh spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai and said:

"You will count seven weeks of years -- seven times seven years, that is to say a period of seven weeks of years, forty-nine years.

And on the tenth day of the seventh month you will sound the trumpet; on the Day of Expiation you will sound the trumpet throughout the land.

You will declare this fiftieth year to be sacred and proclaim the liberation of all the country's inhabitants. You will keep this as a jubilee: each of you will return to his ancestral property, each to his own clan.

This fiftieth year will be a jubilee year for you; in it you will not sow, you will not harvest the grain that has come up on its own or in it gather grapes from your untrimmed vine.

The jubilee will be a holy thing for you; during it you will eat whatever the fields produce.

"In this year of jubilee, each of you will return to his ancestral property.

If you buy land from, or sell land to, your fellow-countryman, neither of you may exploit the other.

In buying from your fellow-countryman, you will take account of the number of years since the jubilee; the sale-price he fixes for you will depend on the number of productive years still to run.

The greater the number of years, the higher the price you will ask for it; the fewer the number of years, the greater the reduction; for what he is selling you is a certain number of harvests.

So you will not exploit one another, but fear your God, for I am Yahweh your God.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage from the book of Leviticus includes the institution of the “jubilee”: every fifty years you had to give rest to the land - “ye shall not sow, nor reap nor harvest” – and the land had to be given back to the owners. The sound of a horn (this is the meaning of the word jubilee) began this extraordinary year in which you had to give rest to the earth, showing that man is not the absolute master and therefore not entitled to exploit it without limits. Moreover, a stop had to be put to all the injustices and abuses that in the meantime the strongest had perpetrated against the weakest, thus restoring the fundamental equality, the radical brotherhood among all. Such a year was celebrated to commemorate the liberation from slavery in Egypt and the entrance into the promised land. The Lord, in fact, upon entry in the land that he gave to his people, gave each family a piece of land to live on and to farm. No one, however, could claim full possession. The land was a gift of God, not an achievement of the people, much less of any single group or individual. In every fiftieth year, through the directions set forth in this page of Leviticus, the believers of Israel were to rediscover the primacy of God and the brotherhood among all of them. The land, its fruits and its distribution, belonged to the Lord. He had created and distributed it fairly. There was the need to restore justice and restore radical brotherhood among all. We do not know how much and how far these provisions were put into practice by the people of Israel, but they surely helped them to remember the Lord’s sovereignty over everything and everyone. It could be said that they have found their fulfilment with the coming of Jesus: In his first sermon in Nazareth Jesus, after reading the page of Isaiah when he announces the release of prisoners, the healing of the sick and the holding of a year of grace, he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing “ (Lk 4:21). With Jesus began a new time, the ‘‘ year of the Lord “, the time of the liberation from sin and death and the establishment of the Kingdom of heaven. Thus was fulfilled what the liberation from slavery in Egypt meant. The words of Leviticus make us reflect on our responsibility also in restoring fairness and justice in our days.