Sunday Vigil

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Memorial of Saint Jerome, doctor of the Church, who died in Bethlehem in 420. He translated the Bible into the Latin language. Prayer that the voice of the Scripture may be heard in every language. The Jews celebrate Yom Kippur (Day of Expiation).


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 13,4-12

So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there set sail for Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant. They travelled the whole length of the island, and at Paphos they came in contact with a Jewish magician and false prophet called Bar-Jesus. He was one of the attendants of the proconsul Sergius Paulus, who was an extremely intelligent man. The proconsul summoned Barnabas and Saul and asked to hear the word of God, but Elymas the magician (this is what his name means in Greek) tried to stop them so as to prevent the proconsul's conversion to the faith. Then Saul, whose other name is Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked at him intently and said, 'You utter fraud, you impostor, you son of the devil, you enemy of all uprightness, will you not stop twisting the straightforward ways of the Lord? Now watch how the hand of the Lord will strike you: you will be blind, and for a time you will not see the sun.' That instant, everything went misty and dark for him, and he groped about to find someone to lead him by the hand. The proconsul, who had watched everything, became a believer, being much struck by what he had learnt about the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage opens with a reference to the Holy Spirit which guides and sustains Paul and Barnabas in their preaching of the Gospel. This is the permanent condition of the Church and of every Christian community, allowing the strength of the Spirit in communicating the Gospel. The Gospel is beginning to be preached along the routes of the Mediterranean. It is the springtime of the faith, and the tree of the community is growing and blossoming, even in the midst of difficulties. The first leg of the journey undertaken by the disciples leads them to the island of Cyprus. Paul and Barnabas immediately travelled “through the whole island” to make sure that no one would remain deprived of the Word. It is at this moment that the author of Acts no longer calls the apostle by his Aramaic name Saul but begins using Paul, a Roman name. We could say that the apostle wants to become “Roman” with the Romans to help them discover the Gospel. As it is for every disciple, the Word of God is Paul’s only strength, the only true treasure he has to communicate. And Paul communicates and defends it with tenacity, because he knows this is the mission for which he was chosen. When he finds himself face to face with the magician who has been attempting on the faith of the Roman proconsul, Paul is very harsh, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of deceit and villainy, … you will be blind,” he tells him, and so it happens. Indeed, a religiousness tread upon by esoteric concepts impedes even the possibility of having a humanistic vision of life. The apostle, intent upon communicating the Gospel even to the Hellenistic world, combats every kind of esoteric attitude in order to communicate a Gospel that can be comprehensible to the world. The Roman proconsul understood this and accepted the Gospel, “When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.”