Sunday Vigil

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Prayer for the unity of Christians. Particular memory of the Churches of the Anglican Communion


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Psalm 47, 2-3.6-9

1 Clap your hands, all you peoples;
  shout to God with loud songs of joy.

2 For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
  a great king over all the earth.

5 God has gone up with a shout,
  the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
  sing praises to our King, sing praises.

7 For God is the king of all the earth;
  sing praises with a psalm.

8 God is king over the nations;
  God sits on his holy throne.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This psalm describes a solemn liturgy that probably took place on a day of festival when the people celebrated their king: the procession began in the Cedron Valley and went up to Jerusalem, all the way to the Temple Mount. When they reached the gates of the Temple, the enthusiasm of the faithful exploded with elation, clapping hands, shouts of joy, and sounding trumpet. Christian tradition interprets this song in the context of the feast the Ascension of Jesus, who rises to heaven and enters into God’s glory. Jesus is exalted, “For the Lord, the Most High is awesome, a great king over all the earth” (v. 3); “God is the king of all the earth” (v. 8); “The shields of the earth belong to God” (v.10). The reason for all of this is God’s royalty. The Lord is king of all the earth and of all peoples: “The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham” (v. 10). The psalmist unites the election of Abraham to the universality of salvation. God did not choose Abraham to separate him from the nations but to unite them all in one unique destiny. The election of Israel, and consequently the election of the Church, is a function of the universality of salvation. God is the great king, the Most High, and all the nations belong to Him; all kings and princes will come and give Him homage. He is above everyone and everything, and His kingdom is universal. It is in this context that we should understand the diverse Islamic people who recognize Abraham as the “father of believers.” The universality of salvation is the good news that needs to be brought to all the nations, especially now, when people are talking more and more about conflict among peoples and among civilizations. Faith in the one God is the root of the dignity of every human being and the fraternity of all people. God is the Lord of all, and even the powerful of the earth belong to him (v. 10). No one besides God can set him or herself up above the people, not even Egypt or Babylon, the great. The Lord chose Israel, the smallest of nations, to trust in Him and announce all the strength and power of the one God. This faith that the people of Israel were called to live and testify to was brought to fulfilment in Jesus. Whoever listens to the prophet of Nazareth and follows his word recognizes God as his or her only Lord and so is freed from slavery to idols of money, power, strength, personal interest, and selfish love. All these idols close people and nations in on themselves and set them against one another. But by drawing people out of their selfishness and fear, and by overcoming every barrier and boundary the Lord makes them free to love one another.