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

Lamentations 2,2.10-14.18-19

The Lord pitilessly engulfed all the homes of Jacob; in his fury he tore down the fortresses of the daughter of Judah; he threw to the ground, he desecrated the kingdom and its princes. Mute, they sit on the ground, the elders of the daughter of Zion; they have put dust on their heads and wrapped themselves in sackcloth. The young girls of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground. My eyes are worn out with weeping, my inmost being is in ferment, my heart plummets at the destruction of my young people, as the children and babies grow faint in the streets of the city. They keep saying to their mothers, 'Where is some food?' as they faint like wounded men in the streets of the city, as they breathe their last on their mothers' breasts. To what can I compare or liken you, daughter of Jerusalem? Who can rescue and comfort you, young daughter of Zion? For huge as the sea is your ruin: who can heal you? The visions your prophets had for you were deceptive whitewash; they did not lay bare your guilt so as to change your fortunes: the visions they told you were deceptive. Cry then to the Lord, rampart of the daughter of Zion; let your tears flow like a torrent, day and night; allow yourself no respite, give your eyes no rest! Up, cry out in the night-time as each watch begins! Pour your heart out like water in Yahweh's presence! Raise your hands to him for the lives of your children (who faint with hunger at the end of every street)!

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage is taken from the book of Lamentation that consists of five funeral songs written after the fall of Jerusalem. The passage is a lament for the destruction of the city and of the temple by the hand of the Babylonians. The deportation of a large part of the people to Babylon had followed the destruction of the city. Only the poor and the weak had remained in a lifeless and desolate land (2 K 24:8-24). Th entire people of Israel were dispersed bitterly and did not have fixed reference points: with the destruction of the temple there is not even its cult anymore. A large and gloomy silence seems to envelop the present and the future of the entire people. The land had become dry, history without horizons, and the heavens closed. Hence the "lament" reported by this book. The words are full of sadness in seeing the condition into which Israel fell: "The Lord has destroyed without mercy all the dwellings of Jacob ... The elders of daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence ... infants and babes faint in the streets of the city." It is an emblematic image of the destruction of life. In such a devastated world the most bitter price is paid by the elderly and the children. Also the image of the city who lays like a widow: her elderly and children are hit. From her pierced heart, the prayer, indeed a cry raises to the Lord: "Cry aloud to the Lord... Let tears stream down like a torrent day and night!" Believers must gather these cries, make them their own and bring them in front of the altar of the Lord. With "no rest." Prayer is first of all a cry for help. This is how prayer manifest in the First Testament: a visceral cry for help, tried in the hope of someone hearing it. All cries are an invocation. We Christians have the task of gathering all cries, and bring them before God ceaselessly and tirelessly: "Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches ... Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at the head of every street." It is so today in too many parts of the world. This biblical passage unsettles and questions all so that the lament become insistent prayer.