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

2 Timothy 4,1-8

Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I charge you, in the name of his appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement -- but do all with patience and with care to instruct. The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then they will shut their ears to the truth and will turn to myths. But you must keep steady all the time; put up with suffering; do the work of preaching the gospel; fulfil the service asked of you. As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to depart. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come for me now is the crown of uprightness which the Lord, the upright judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his appearing.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

As the letter nears its conclusion, Paul seems to be becoming more and more persistent in his instructions to Timothy. He is concerned for the fate of the community and wants his disciple to be up to the task of guiding it. He is not afraid of putting the gravity of the situation right before his eyes, so much so that he begins his recommendations with a solemn oath putting him in front of God and the Lord Jesus, the supreme Judge. The apostle reminds Timothy of Jesus' eternal judgment - Jesus will judge "the living and the dead" - and of his work of responsible of the community. The first work he urges is the proclamation of the "Word." For the apostle this is the primary task of the pastor. No human consideration should condition the preaching of the Gospel. It does not matter whether it is accepted by men and women or not; it is not important whether the time, the manner, or the circumstances of preaching find favour with men and women. Paul urges Timothy to show temperance and present the Gospel message with prudence, clarity, but also with firmness. Preaching the Word of God entails suffering and humiliation, as it happened to Paul. Paul is writing with death before his eyes; he knows the time is coming when his blood will be poured out like a libation offered to God in martyrdom. But death is a passage, a "return" to the Lord. Paul turns his gaze back to the race of his life; it has been a "fight." Therefore it is with sure hope that he can wait for "the crown of righteousness," He knows that he will receive this crown of victory alone, but together with the disciples "who have longed for his appearing." It is the common destination to the kingdom to which all the disciples are called; one is not saved alone, but together.