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

Joshua 24,14-19

'So now, fear Yahweh and serve him truly and sincerely; banish the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve Yahweh. But if serving Yahweh seems a bad thing to you, today you must make up your minds whom you do mean to serve, whether the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now living. As regards my family and me, we shall serve Yahweh.' The people replied, 'Far be it from us to desert Yahweh and to serve other gods! Yahweh our God was the one who brought us and our ancestors here from Egypt, from the place of slave-labour, who worked those great wonders before our eyes and who kept us safe all along the way we travelled and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And Yahweh has driven all the nations out for us, including the Amorites who used to live in the country. We too shall serve Yahweh, for he is our God.' Joshua then said to the people, 'You will not be able to serve Yahweh, since he is a holy God, he is a jealous God who will not tolerate either your misdeeds or your sins.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

All Israel faces a solemn choice at the end of another stage of their story, when they finally are in possession of the land that the Lord had promised to the fathers. It is a question of choosing whether to "serve" the Lord or other gods. Israel is in fact living in a land populated with idols. Palestine, like all the Ancient Near East, from Mesopotamia to Egypt, was populated by different peoples and each possessed its own deities. "Serving" means submitting, listening, depending on someone. It is a key word in the choice that Israel must make. In fact one cannot remain indifferent or uncertain before the Word of God. It is necessary to choose in a world in which one is often chosen by common opinions or in which everyone always prefers to postpone. Joshua places Israel in front of the story of liberation desired by God for them, which the people of Israel acknowledge in their response, indispensable premise of this choice: "For it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went..." The memory of God's love for us remains the premise to renew our faith and to give our adhesion to the Lord, to "serve" him and to abandon those idols that still hinder the growth of our humanity and our faith. Then also today before the Lord and his love we say as Israel, renewing our covenant with him: "The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey." Let this be our choice as we listen to his word again, light for our steps.