Sunday Vigil
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Sunday Vigil

Remembrance of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, precursor of the Lord. Read more

Sunday Vigil
Saturday, August 29

Remembrance of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, precursor of the Lord.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 6,17-29

Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had had him chained up in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife whom he had married. For John had told Herod, 'It is against the law for you to have your brother's wife.' As for Herodias, she was furious with him and wanted to kill him, but she was not able to do so, because Herod was in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and upright man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him. An opportunity came on Herod's birthday when he gave a banquet for the nobles of his court, for his army officers and for the leading figures in Galilee. When the daughter of this same Herodias came in and danced, she delighted Herod and his guests; so the king said to the girl, 'Ask me anything you like and I will give it you.' And he swore her an oath, 'I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.' She went out and said to her mother, 'What shall I ask for?' She replied, 'The head of John the Baptist.' The girl at once rushed back to the king and made her request, 'I want you to give me John the Baptist's head, immediately, on a dish.' The king was deeply distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he was reluctant to break his word to her. At once the king sent one of the bodyguard with orders to bring John's head. The man went off and beheaded him in the prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. When John's disciples heard about this, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Since ancient times, the Church recalls not only the birth of John the Baptist but also the day of his death at the hands of Herod, who preferred to listen to the whim of a woman with a wicked heart rather than to the harsh but true and saving words of the prophet. John the Baptist is the last, the greatest of the prophets, the one who prepares the advent of the Messiah. The rigour of his words stands in contrast to our habit to bend all in our own interest; his being essential helps us to free ourselves of the superfluous; his hope reminds us that we cannot recognize Jesus without preparing our hearts, without facing the desert of the heart and of the many places in the world. Let us listen to his voice to prepare a way for the Lord who comes. The Baptist preached justice and conversion of heart. And he had entered the soul of the king. Conversely, Herodias was increasingly annoyed by the preaching of the prophet and hated him. Herod unfortunately did not continue to hear the word of the prophet; fear, which he felt for the reproach made to him, did not lead him to continue listening to the point of conversion. Each priority was overwhelmed: his word was more important than the life of the prophet. And Herod decided to have the Baptist beheaded. From the perverted heart of Herod sprang murder and the attempt to make evil triumph over good. Different was the behaviour of those who flocked to the Jordan to listen to the Baptist: they flocked acknowledging that they were sinners in need of forgiveness, of change, of salvation. John's testimony prepares the heart of people to welcome the Lord. This happens each time the Gospel is preached. Let us not go looking in the desert at a reed shaken by the wind, that is at one of the many images we look at without understanding; let us not even look for a man clothed in soft garments, because these men are in the palaces of the kings as many false reassurances of well-being. Let us be questioned by the one who shows us the Lord present in the world, because he is the man who knows how to wait. And only those who wait, who wake up from sleep, recognize the present salvation.

Prayer is the heart of the life of the Community of Sant'Egidio and is its absolute priority. At the end of the day, every the Community of Sant'Egidio, large or small, gathers around the Lord to listen to his Word. The Word of God and the prayer are, in fact, the very basis of the whole life of the Community. The disciples cannot do other than remain at the feet of Jesus, as did Mary of Bethany, to receive his love and learn his ways (Phil. 2:5).
So every evening, when the Community returns to the feet of the Lord, it repeats the words of the anonymous disciple: " Lord, teach us how to pray". Jesus, Master of prayer, continues to answer: "When you pray, say: Abba, Father". It is not a simple exhortation, it is much more. With these words Jesus lets the disciples participate in his own relationship with the Father. Therefore in prayer, the fact of being children of the Father who is in heaven, comes before the words we may say. So praying is above all a way of being! That is to say we are children who turn with faith to the Father, certain that they will be heard.
Jesus teaches us to call God "Our Father". And not simply "Father" or "My Father". Disciples, even when they pray on their own, are never isolated nor they are orphans; they are always members of the Lord's family.
In praying together, beside the mystery of being children of God, there is also the mystery of brotherhood, as the Father of the Church said: "You cannot have God as father without having the church as mother". When praying together, the Holy Spirit assembles the disciples in the upper room together with Mary, the Lord's mother, so that they may direct their gaze towards the Lord's face and learn from Him the secret of his Heart.
 The Communities of Sant'Egidio all over the world gather in the various places of prayer and lay before the Lord the hopes and the sufferings of the tired, exhausted crowds of which the Gospel speaks ( Mat. 9: 3-7 ), In these ancient crowds we can see the huge masses of the modern cities, the millions of refugees who continue to flee their countries, the poor, relegated to the very fringe of life and all those who are waiting for someone to take care of them. Praying together includes the cry, the invocation, the aspiration, the desire for peace, the healing and salvation of the men and women of this world. Prayer is never in vain; it rises ceaselessly to the Lord so that anguish is turned into hope, tears into joy, despair into happiness, and solitude into communion. May the Kingdom of God come soon among people!