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

Daniel 7, 15-27

'I, Daniel, was deeply disturbed and the visions that passed through my head alarmed me.

So I approached one of those who were standing by and asked him about all this. And in reply he revealed to me what these things meant.

"These four great beasts are four kings who will rise up from the earth.

Those who receive royal power are the holy ones of the Most High, and kingship will be theirs for ever, for ever and ever."

Then I asked about the fourth beast, different from all the rest, very terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws; it ate its victims, crushed them, and trampled their remains underfoot;

and about the ten horns on its head -- and why the other horn sprouted and the three original horns fell, and why this horn had eyes and a mouth full of boasting, and why it looked more impressive than its fellows.

This was the horn I had watched making war on the holy ones and proving the stronger,

until the coming of the One most venerable who gave judgement in favour of the holy ones of the Most High, when the time came for the holy ones to assume kingship.

This is what he said: "The fourth beast is to be a fourth kingdom on earth, different from all other kingdoms. It will devour the whole world, trample it underfoot and crush it.

As for the ten horns: from this kingdom will rise ten kings, and another after them; this one will be different from the previous ones and will bring down three kings;

he will insult the Most High, and torment the holy ones of the Most High. He will plan to alter the seasons and the Law, and the Saints will be handed over to him for a time, two times, and half a time.

But the court will sit, and he will be stripped of his royal authority which will be finally destroyed and reduced to nothing.

And kingship and rule and the splendours of all the kingdoms under heaven will be given to the people of the holy ones of the Most High, whose royal power is an eternal power, whom every empire will serve and obey."


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

In this last day, the liturgy allows us to listen to the central pages of the Book of Daniel. After the nocturnal visions, narrated in the first fourteen verses of the chapter, Daniel feels weaker for the disturbance and asks one of his neighbours the meaning of the things that he has seen. This time even he—who more than once helped the Babylonian king to interpret dreams—needs someone’s help to understand what he has seen. No one can feel self-sufficient, totally independent from others. This is true even in the listening of the Sacred Scriptures. Gregory the Great—one of the most profound Bible commentators—believed that his listeners often helped him to better understand the biblical passages on which he commented. When the Church’s spiritual tradition says that Scripture should be listened to not only alone but also in community, this does none other than emphasize the importance of communal listening. And yet, the interpreter questioned by Daniel explains the visions making particular reference to the fourth beast—which represents Alexander the Great—and to his ten horns, who are his successors. The last horn "that came up" and that "made war with the holy ones and was prevailing over them" (v. 21) represents Antioch IV Epiphanes. His "arrogance"—derived from his belief that he was Zeus’ representative on earth—drove him to persecute those Hebrews who wanted to remain faithful to God. But the interpreter claims that the judgment of God will come: in that moment the persecutions will end, the kingdom of Babylon will be destroyed and the power will be given to the "to the people of the holy ones of the Most High" (v. 27). It is the proclamation of hope received by the believers who remain faithful to God and his covenant. It is to them that the Lord entrusts the power to change and save the earth. While this liturgical year closes, the vision of Daniel calls us to look beyond the immediate present, which is often very difficult, and to wait for the Lord who comes to save us.