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

Psalm 23, 1-6

1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
  he leads me beside still waters;

3 he restores my soul.
  He leads me in right paths
  for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
  I fear no evil;
  for you are with me;
  your rod and your staff—
  they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
  in the presence of my enemies;
  you anoint my head with oil;
  my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
  all the days of my life,
  and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
  my whole life long.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

“How happy are we to be in the hands of such a shepherd who looks after our true well being and who knows how to nourish us every hour,” writes Charles de Foucauld in his commentary on this Psalm. The shepherd about whom this Psalm is about is not just a simple guide, but mostly a traveling companion who shares in the life of all of his sheep, while also guiding and protecting them. In his hands he holds a rod and a staff to point the way and to strike any enemies. The Psalm captures two distressing situations that torment us most: our fear of danger and the uncertainty of the path that lies before us. Yet, in this Psalm there is no trace of distress, because the believer lives with a profound sense of certainty: “For you are with me” (v. 4b). The presence of the shepherd is loving and gratouitous: “He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake” (v. 3b). Believers walk securely for they rely on the firmness of God’s love more so than on their own strength Our path, however, becomes uncertain and our enemies more dangerous every time we presume to be our own shepherds, arrogantly guiding ourselves by our own habits and convictions. Only the Lord is the good shepherd who can gather us together into one flock. This image of the good shepherd, who looks after, defends and guides his flock to green pastures, reaches full realization in Jesus. In these pastures, as if to mock the enemies, he gathers and feeds us: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (v. 5). The Psalm closes with the certainty of the Lord’s faithful companionship: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all days of my life” (v. 6). The Hebrew word for felicity is tob, which means good, pleasing, beautiful, useful, and full of meaning. The Hebrew word to say ‘grace’, hesed, means to love faithfully forever. For this reason, the psalmist’s joy comes from dwelling in the house of the Lord—that is, from being gathered together by the Lord in the community of believers just as the shepherd gathers his flock.