Sunday Vigil

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Memorial of St. Seraphim of Sarov, a Russian monk and staretz (†1833). He communicated peace by witnessing the Easter joy and the action of the Holy Spirit


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jeremiah 26,11-16.24

The priests and prophets then said to the chief men and all the people, 'This man deserves to die, since he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.' Jeremiah, however, replied to all the chief men and all the people as follows, 'Yahweh himself sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city all the things you have heard. So now amend your behaviour and actions, listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, and Yahweh will relent about the disaster that he has decreed for you. For myself, I am, as you see, in your hands. Do whatever you please or think right with me. But be sure of this, that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood on yourselves, on this city and on its inhabitants, since Yahweh has truly sent me to you to say all this for you to hear.' The chief men and all the people then said to the priests and prophets, 'This man does not deserve to die: he has spoken to us in the name of Yahweh our God.' But Jeremiah had a protector in Ahikam son of Shaphan, so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Two things appear clearly in this passage, where the prophet Jeremiah is accused because he spoke out against the religious practices of the temple. Prophecy has never had an easy life at any time in history. The words of men and women of faith who are not afraid to communicate the Word of God are often met with harshness, because they reveal the evil in society and in each one of us. And the hostile reaction to Jeremiah rises from the heart of his own people. But the prophet does not let himself be intimidated. He knows that he is proclaiming what the Lord has revealed to him. The Word of God reveals what is hidden. It reveals sin, injustice, and lies. This is an important part of prophecy. And it bothers the people who think they are in the right. But prophecy does not just contain a denunciation of evil. There is also a very strong invitation to a change of heart, a transformation of attitudes. The Word of God never gives up on proposing the path of change: "Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you." The Lord wants the good for each one of us, even when he speaks harsh words to us. God's intention is always to change our lives. There is always hope for change in God's words. And the condemnation of our behaviour is never the last word. God's highest law is to forgive those who repent. Jeremiah was spared from the violence of the believers of his time. But not all those who have proclaimed the Gospel have been spared from death. Many men and women of faith have lost their lives because of their faithfulness to the Lord. They are the martyrs of the past and of our time. They remained faithful to the end. And the Lord has welcomed them and rewarded them with the crown of glory in his kingdom. Let us remember them so that our lives will always be an expression of faithfulness to the great gift of God's love and of His word of eternal life.