Sunday Vigil

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Memorial of Lazarus of Bethany. Prayer for all those who are gravely ill and for the dying. Memorial of those who are suffering from AIDS.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 72, 1-4.7-8.17

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
     and your righteousness to a king’s son.

2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
     and your poor with justice.

3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
     and the hills, in righteousness.

4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
     give deliverance to the needy,
     and crush the oppressor.

7 In his days may righteousness flourish
     and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
     and from the River to the ends of the earth.
     and saves the lives of the needy.

17 May his name endure for ever,
     his fame continue as long as the sun.
  May all nations be blessed in him;
     may they pronounce him happy.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 72 is the last of the prayers of David that began with psalm 2. This is how the second Book of Psalms closes: with the description of a dream. Israel is a small nation, often troubled by its neighbours and even more often badly governed by its own kings. The psalmist dreams, or better, hopes for a king who will finally rule with God’s justice and look with favour on the poor. For the Lord, justice is not the cold redistribution of possessions, but special attention for the poor: justice means that the poor live with dignity like everyone else. Throughout the whole of Scripture, justice is always tied to love and mercy, especially for the poorest. Without this special bond with the poor, it is difficult to understand the deep meaning of the biblical message. The psalmist’s prayer rises to God and asks that the king not only govern in God’s name - almost every king has claimed to do that - but according to God’s plan and God’s justice. From the beginning the psalmist prays, “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice” (v.1-2). He is certainly praying for the king to have an eternal, universal, and victorious reign: “May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations… May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute” (v.5-10). But the wisdom to rule is not passed down through a dynasty or acquired like a privilege. Only God can grant it. The psalmist has before his eyes the image of Solomon, who, from the moment he was elected king, asked God to give him the wisdom to rule. This is why the psalmist prays for the king, but also - and more importantly - asks God for a king according to his plan. His words prefigure the coming of the Messiah-king, the one sent by God to establish a kingdom of peace and justice. The words of Isaiah can already be seen in them: “Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. The wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.” (32:16-17, 15)