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Tag Archives: Root of Jesse

SOLEMNITY OF ST JOSEPH, RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 88)

R. His dynasty shall last for ever.

1. I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord;
through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth.
Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever,
that your truth is firmly established as the heavens. (R.)

2. With my chosen one I have made a covenant;
I have sworn to David my servant:
“I will establish your dynasty for ever
and set up your throne through all ages.” (R.)

3. He will say to me: “You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.”
I will keep my love for him always;
with him my covenant shall last.” (R.)

 

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SOLEMNITY OF ST JOSEPH, BIBLE READING I (2 SAMUEL 7:4-5, 12-14, 16)

THE LORD GOD WILL GIVE HIM THE THRONE OF HIS ANCESTOR DAVID.

The word of the Lord came to Nathan: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus the Lord speaks: When your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.)

I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.’”

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 

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29th JANUARY, RESPONSORIAL PSALM (PSALM 88)

R. I will keep my love for him always.

1. I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn to David my servant:
I will establish your dynasty for ever
and set up your throne through all ages. (R.)

2. He will say to me: “You are my father,
my God, the rock who saves me.”
And I will make him my first-born,
the highest of the kings of the earth. (R.)

3. I will keep my love for him always;
for him my covenant shall endure.
I will establish his dynasty for ever,
make his throne as lasting as the heavens. (R.)

ALLELUIA

Alleluia, alleluia!
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.
Alleluia!

 
 

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29th JANUARY, BIBLE READING (2 SAMUEL 7:4-17)

YOUR HOUSE AND YOUR SOVEREIGNTY WILL ALWAYS STAND SECURE BEFORE ME.

The word of the Lord came to Nathan:
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I have never stayed in a house from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have always led a wanderer’s life in a tent. In all my journeying with the whole people of Israel, did I say to any one of the judges of Israel, whom I had appointed as shepherds of Israel my people: Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’ This is what you must say to my servant David, ‘The Lord of hosts says this: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. (It is he who shall build a house for my name, and I will make his royal throne secure for ever.) I will be a father to him and he a son to me; if he does evil, I will punish him with the rod such as men use, with strokes such as mankind gives. Yet I will not withdraw my favour from him, as I withdrew it from your predecessor. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.'”
Nathan related all these words to David and this whole revelation.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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ADVENT PRAYER OF THE GREAT “O” ANTIPHONS

O Wisdom,
holy Word of God,
You rule all creation with power and true concern.
Come to teach us the way of salvation.

O sacred Lord,
and Leader of ancient Israel,
You communicated with Moses at the burning bush
and gave him the law on Mount Sinai.
Come to set us free by Your mighty arm.

O Root of Jesse,
raised up as a sign of all peoples,
in Your presence kings become mute
and the nations worship before You.
Come to deliver us and do not delay.

O Key of David,
and Royal Power of Israel,
You open what no one can shut,
and You shut what no one can open.
Come and deliver Your people
imprisoned by darkness and the shadows of death.

O Radiant Dawn,
You are the Brightness of eternal light
and the Sun of justice.
Come to enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

O King of the Gentiles
and the longed-for Ruler of the nations,
You are the cornerstone Who make all one.
Come and save those whom You have created.

O Emmanuel,
our King and our Lawgiver,
You are the Desired of the nations
and the Saviour of all people.
Come to save us, O Lord our God!

 
 

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3rd DECEMBER, BIBLE READING (ISAIAH 11:1-10)

ON HIM THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD RESTS.

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion cub feed together
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.

That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.

V. The word of the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.

 
 

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MANKIND’S SALVATION HISTORY THROUGH THE HOLY ROSARY: THE JOYFUL MYSTERY “BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST”

THE RUN-UP TO THE NATIVITY AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE

“After Elizabeth gave birth to her child [John the Baptist] she desired to call him John, but her friends and neighbours objected, saying that he should be called Zachary after his father. Zachary was still unable to speak. The kinsfolk and neighbours made signs to him, asking him what name should be given to the child. On a tablet he wrote that the child should be called John, that is, ‘Jahweh hath shown favour.’ Immediately the gift of speech was restored to him and he spoke, blessing God.

THE BENEDICTUS

While the people assembled there were in wonder at this marvellous happening, Zachary himself, inspired by God, uttered a song destined to become famous forever:

‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people. And hath raised up a horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant. As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning. Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us. To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament. The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us. That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear: In holiness and justice before him, all our days. And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins. Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us: To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace’ (Luke 1:68-79).

FULFILMENT OF THE ANCIENT PROPHECIES

In the mind of Zachary, as in the mind of Mary, it seems clear that God is about to bring to pass the promise which He made to Abraham, the promise to bless Abraham and, through him, the nations of the world. In an ecstasy induced by the Holy Spirit he seems to allude to the prophecy of Zacharias [Zechariah]: ‘I will bring my servant the Orient’ (Zacharias 3:8). For he cries out: ‘The Orient from on high hath visited us: to enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.’

THE ROLE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

Moreover, in the same Spirit of God Zachary realised that his own son John will play a secondary role in the great divine plan. John will be the prophet of the Highest, not the Highest Himself. John will go before the face of the Lord to prepare the people for His coming. Surely the words of Zachary, coming after the words of Elizabeth to Mary, emphasise the significance of the role of Mary’s Son.

AN ASCETIC LIFE OF PREPARATION IN THE DESERT

St Luke, who tells us this story of the birth of John, says nothing more of the early years of John except that the boy went at some undetermined date into the desert to live as an ascetic until the day when he began his work of preparing the way for the Lord.

A REAL GENTLEMAN

Meanwhile Mary had returned to Nazareth. She was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. On discovering that Mary, his betrothed, was already with child, Joseph was perplexed. His knowledge of her purity and her innocence, his great love for her, did not allow him to suspect her of some shameful sin. Yet he knew that he was not himself the father of the child, and so he was minded to restore to her her freedom, but in such wise that no stigma should attach to her name.

AN UNKNOWN VISITOR APPEARS DURING THE NIGHT

While he was in this frame of mind God sent him an angel in a dream who said to him: ‘Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For he shall save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:20-21). In these words, by addressing Joseph as the son of David, the angel suggests to Joseph that the child is the expected Messias, the Anointed One of the House of David. Moreover, by repeating what Gabriel had already said, that the child is to be named Jesus, that is, Jahweh is a saviour, he intimates the same thing. He also says clearly that Jesus is so-called because He will fulfil His role by saving the people from their sins.

‘THE ROOT OF JESSE’; A DESCENDANT OF KING DAVID

Thus enlightened by the angel of God Joseph takes Mary to himself as his wife. In this way Jesus, the son of Mary, became legally the son of Joseph, and hence also the son of David. St Luke seems to intimate (Luke 1:32, 69). That Mary was also of the House of David, and hence Jesus would have received the very blood of David from His mother.

But in the eyes of the Jews if His legal human father were not of the House of David, He would not have been considered of the family of David. On the other hand, the fact that Joseph was His legal father made Him in their eyes a true descendant of the House of David. On the side then of both His true mother and His legal foster father Jesus was truly of the House of David, and so could be the Child promised by God Who would inherit the throne of David forever.

OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT ORDERS

Now the birth of Jesus was as follows: Augustus, the Roman Emperor, ordered an enrolment or census should be made throughout the whole empire. As St Luke tells us, everyone was to be enrolled, each in his own city of origin. Hence Joseph, though living in Nazareth, had to go to Bethlehem, the city of David, from which the family of David took its origin.

It was this circumstance which led to the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, instead of at Nazareth. In this way was fulfilled the prophecy of Micheas [Micah]: ‘And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousand of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity’ (Micheas 5:2).

ALL BED & BREAKFASTS WERE BOOKED TO FULL CAPACITY BY CENSUS TOURISTS

In obedience to the order of the emperor, Joseph and Mary, who was with child, went to Bethlehem. They were unable to find shelter at the inn. Hence they were forced to seek shelter in one of the surrounding caves. While there Mary gave birth to her Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.

AMAZING NEWS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

It was not fitting that the birth of the expected Saviour of Israel should go entirely unnoticed. God sent an angel to some shepherds who were pasturing their flocks in the same district.

To them the angel said: ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there has been born to you today in the town of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’

Scarcely had he finished speaking when a multitude of heavenly angels appeared and sang joyfully: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will’ (Luke 2:10-12, 14).

And thus, in the silent simplicity of a cave and in proximity to peaceful shepherds with their gentle flocks, the Prince of Peace, God’s peace to men of good will, came in the flesh to their earth.

HISTORICAL DATING

The historians are not in agreement on the exact date of this wonderful event. In the sixth century of our own era a certain Dionysius Exiguus made the year 1 A.D. (anno domini, that is, the year in which the Lord Jesus was born) the year 754 of the city of Rome. He made a mistake. Jesus was born while Herod the Great was still alive, and Herod died in the year 750 of Rome. Hence Jesus must have been born at least before that time, that is, by our present reckoning, at least in the early months of the year 4 B.C. Historians vary in their estimates of the year between the years 8 and 4 B.C.

A STRANGE AND WONDERFUL EVENT

The birth of Jesus is truly a strange and wonderful, even a portentous event. It is heralded in glowing though mysterious terms by the angel Gabriel. The ‘Son of the Most High,’ he says, is to be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. Though Mary is betrothed to Joseph, the child will have no human father. The omnipotent power of God will incarnate Him in the womb of His mother. He will be called Jesus because He will be a saviour. He is the Messias, the Anointed One of Israel because He will inherit the throne of David, His ancestor, and will rule forever.

In Him will be fulfilled God’s ancient promise to Abraham to bring blessings to the whole world. A way will be prepared for Him by John, the son of Zachary; John will go before Jesus in the spirit and power of Elias; John, who will thus fulfil the prophecy of Malachias [Malachi]: ‘Behold I send my angel, and he shall prepare the way before my face. And presently the Lord whom you seek, and the angel of the testament whom you desire shall come to his temple’ (Malachias 3:1).”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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932 B.C. – THE PERIOD OF THE TWO KINGDOMS IN THE BIBLE EXPLAINED: II. THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH

(Ten of the tribes revolted against tax and labour burdens imposed since King Solomon during the early part of the reign of his successor Roboam. They elected a former official under Solomon, Jeroboam, as their king. The portion of the old kingdom remaining to Roboam became known as the kingdom of Juda [Judah]. This division of the kingdom took place in the year 932 B.C. – The fate of the Kingdom of Israel from Jeroboam onwards until their captivity by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. is related in Part I, posted immediately before today’s Mass readings on this blog.)

JUDA’S WORSHIP, UNLIKE ISRAEL’S, REMAINED FREE OF GOLDEN CALF STATUES

The tribes of Juda and Benjamin remained loyal to the House of David. They are known as the kingdom of Juda. The kingdom of Juda endured longer than the kingdom of Israel. This was due in part to the fact that their geographical position protected them from the Syrians, the Assyrians and the Egyptians. It may also be due to greater protection from God. The divine protection of Juda was fitting for several reasons. In the first place the kingdom was faithful to the House of David and God had promised that David should rule forever.

In the second place the kingdom was, by and large, more faithful to the worship of Jahewh, the true God. The worship of Jahweh at Jerusalem was not adulterated by the use of a calf-representation of Jahweh as it was at Dan and Bethel in the northern kingdom. The Davidic kings, Asa (913-873 B.C.), Josaphat (873-849 B.C.), Joas (836-797 B.C.), Ezechias (718-689 B.C.) and Josias (639-609 B.C.), all made strenuous efforts to induce the people to worship Jahweh properly at Jerusalem.

In fact, Ezechias trusted so firmly in God that when Jerusalem was threatened by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, he both refused to surrender or to make an alliance with Egypt for his own protection. On the advice of the prophet Isaias Ezechias trusted in God alone. In return God sent a plague or a pestilence to the army of the Assyrians and they withdrew without attacking the city.

NOT WITHOUT FAULT IN THE SIGHT OF GOD

But the House of David and the people of the kingdom of Juda were not without fault in the sight of God. Abia (915-913 B.C.) allied himself with Tab-Rimmon, king of Damascus, against the kingdom of Israel and thus helped to bring about the interference of Syria in the affairs of Israel and Juda.

Josaphat, even though he was an ardent Jahwist, married his son Joram to Athalia, the daughter of Jezabel, Queen of Israel and a militant anti-Jahwist. The Jahwism of Josaphat was thus later overturned by the anti-Jahwism of Athalia when she seized the throne in 842.

Achaz (733-718), when threatened by an anti-Assyrian league formed by Rasin of Damascus and Peqah of Israel, appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, instead of trusting in Jahweh. As a result the kingdom of Juda became a vassal of Assyria.

During the reign of Joachim (608-597) the kingdom conspired with other principalities, relying on the aid of Egypt against the Babylonians. As a result, in 597, Nabuchodonosor of Babylonia entered Jerusalem and effected the first deportation of the people to Babylonia. Sedecias, the last king of the dynasty of David, also conspired with the Egyptians against Babylonia. In 586 Nabuchodonosor captured Jerusalem and deported the more important or wealthier people to Babylonia. The kingdom of Juda had perished.

THE KINGDOM OF JUDA, TOO, FAILED BECAUSE OF LACK OF TRUST IN GOD

The kingdom failed first of all because it had not trusted in Jahweh. Instead it had turned to political and military alliances with polytheistic and idolatrous peoples to insure its own political preservation. And the kings, the nobles and the peoples did this in the face of repeated warnings of the prophets of God.

THEY IGNORED THE WARNINGS OF GOD’S PROPHETS

When Achaz was in danger from the kings of Damascus and Israel (Rasin and Peqah), the prophet Isaias counselled him to trust in God alone. But he appealed instead to the Assyrians, even though Isaias threatened that God would let the Babylonians devastate the land.

When Joachim was seeking an alliance with Egypt against Assyria, the prophet Jeremias warned that the people would suffer as much harm through Egypt as through Assyria: ‘And thou shalt be ashamed of Egypt as thou wast ashamed of Assyria’ (Jeremias 2:36). Their miseries, he tells them, are due to the fact that they have deserted their God: ‘Hath not this been done to thee because thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God…?’ (Jeremias 2:17).

DURING MANASSES’ REIGN, THE GODS OF ASSYRIA WERE WORSHIPPED IN JUDA

The concern of the prophets with the problem of alliances with other nations was not so much political as it was religious. As events almost always proved, such alliances led to a deterioration of the religious views and practices of the people. Thus, the alliance of Achaz with the Assyrians led to the introduction of a new altar in the Temple at Jerusalem, an altar modelled after an Assyrian altar which Achaz saw at Damascus when he went there to see Tiglath-Pileser. Achaz even sacrificed his own son in a holocaust, probably made to Moloch, the god of the Ammonites. During the reign of Manasses (689-641), when the kingdom was subject to Assyria, the gods of Assyria were worshipped in the land of Juda.

AN INSIDIOUS WORLDLINESS ATTACKED JUDA’S MORAL AND RELIGIOUS LIFE

But the lack of trust in God and the acceptance of idolatrous elements in the religious practices of the people were only the more striking manifestations of an insidious worldliness which had attacked the moral and religious life of the nation. In the eyes of God. As the prophets so strongly asserted, the people had given up God and the things of God for the pleasures, riches and power of this fallen world.

Thus the prophet Micheas [Micah] complains of the people: ‘And they have coveted fields and taken them by violence, and houses they have forcibly taken away: and oppressed a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.’ Isaias says to the people: ‘Wash yourselves: be clean. Take away the evil of your devices from your eyes. Cease to do perversely. Learn to do well. Seek judgment. Relieve the oppressed. Judge for the fatherless. Defend the widow… The princes are faithless, companions of thieves; they all love bribes, they run after rewards. They judge not for the fatherless: and the widow’s cause cometh not in to them’ (Isaiah 1:16-17, 23).

UNRULY DESIRES FOR WORLDLY THINGS LEAD TO DISTRUST OF GOD

It is easy to see how the unruly desires of the people for possessions, power and influence could lead to a lack of trust in God. The man whose property is threatened will tend to put greater trust in force of arms than he will place in an invisible God. This is especially true if the wealth has been acquired by breaking the law of justice which God has established. The man whose wealth has been gained by sinning against God’s will can hardly look to God to protect him. This is why the prophets reproach the people of Juda for their sins. This is why they call for a return to the Mosaic Law as a means of obtaining God’s mercy.

WHAT MADE THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH TURN TO BAAL AND OTHER IDOLS INSTEAD?

Again, a people enamoured of the pleasures and power of the world will easily tend to admire the gods of nations wealthier or more powerful than themselves. This explains, too, why the Chosen People turned to the worship of Baal and Astarte, of Ishtar and Moloch. The shrewd seeker after fame and wealth will neglect no divinity that might farther or hinder his aims.

At any rate, Juda sinned against God. The prophets pleaded with the people to give up their sins and return to God. But their admonitions were in vain. God therefore announced the destruction of the kingdom of Juda. ‘Be in pain and labour,’ said the prophet Micheas, ‘O daughter of Sion, as a woman that bringeth forth: for now thou shalt go out of the city and shalt dwell in the country and shalt come even to Babylon’ (Micah 4:10).

To King Ezechias Isaias prophesied: ‘Behold the days shall come, that all that is in thy house, and that thy fathers have laid up in store until this day shall be carried away into Babylon: there shall not any thing be left, saith the Lord. And of thy children that issue from thee, whom thou shalt beget, they shall take away: and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon’ (Isaiah 39:6-7).

STILL GOD WILL NOT FORSAKE HIS PEOPLE, SAY THE PROPHETS

But the future history of the people, as seen by the prophets, is not all darkness and despair. God will deliver a remnant, a portion of his people from captivity. ‘Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who are carried by my bowels, are borne up by my womb. Even to your old age I am the same. And to your grey hairs I will carry you. I have made you and I will bear: I will carry you. I have made you and I will bear: I will carry and I will save’ (Isaiah 46:3-4). And again: ‘Come forth out of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, declare it with the voice of joy: make this to be heard, and speak it out even to the ends of the earth. Say: The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob’ (Isaiah 48:20).

Jeremias sends a word of comfort to those who have been led into captivity in Babylon: ‘When the seventy years shall begin to be accomplished in Babylon, I will visit you, and I will perform my good word in your favour, to bring you again to this place… and I will bring back your captivity, and I will gather you out of all nations, and from all the places to which I have driven you out, saith the Lord; and I will bring you back from the place to which I have caused you to be carried away captive’ (Jeremiah 29:10, 14).

THE PROPHETS FORESEE IN THE FUTURE THE JUST KING FOR ALL, JESUS CHRIST

The prophets foresee not only the return of the people to Jerusalem; they foresee in the distant future the reign of a just king who shall be a descendant of King David. Isaias, when seeking to dissuade Achaz from making an alliance with Tiglath-Pileser, says that God will send a wonderful sign to the House of David: ‘Hear ye, therefore, House of David… Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son: and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14).

Of this child Isaias also foretells: ‘A child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the World to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire shall be multiplied and there shall be no end of peace. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom: to establish it and strengthen it with judgement and with justice, from henceforth and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this’ (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Jeremias echoes the same thought: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch. And a king shall reign, and shall be wise, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth. In those days shall Juda be saved and Israel shall dwell condfidently: and this is the name that they shall call him: The Lord, Our Just One’ (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Micheas adds the detail that the just King will be born at Bethlehem of Juda: ‘And thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Judah: out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity’ (Micah 5:2).

HIS BLESSINGS WILL BE EXTENDED TO ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH

Moreover, when this King shall come, His blessings will be extended to all the nations of the earth. ‘And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills: and all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go, and say: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob: and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths. For the law shall come forth from Sion; and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge the Gentiles and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares and their spears into sickles. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation: neither shall they be exercised any more to war’ (Isaiah 2:24).

THEY WILL BE CONVERTED FROM SIN AND RETURN TO THE LORD

God’s plan, then, to redeem the world through the people of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, will not fail. Because His people have sinned against Him, He will allow their kingdoms to be destroyed and the people to be led away into captivity. But a remnant of them, a small portion of them, will repent of their sins. The severity of their chastisement will cause them to be converted from sin and to return to the Lord their God. Then, after seventy years of humiliating captivity, they will return to their land.

WHEN JESUS CHRIST COMES, GOD’S PROMISE TO ABRAHAM WILL BE FULFILLED

When, through disastrous defeat and bitter misfortune, they have learned to trust in and worship Jahweh alone, God will send them a King who will restore justice and judgment to the world. They will be able to recognise their true King because in some mysterious way known only to God He will be conceived and born of a virgin of the House of David. He will be born at Bethlehem of Judah.

When the promised King comes, then the word of God to Abraham will be fulfilled: the blessings of God will be extended to all nations through the seed of Abraham.

THE PLAN FOR THE REDEMPTION OF THE HUMAN RACE IS STILL UNFOLDING AT THAT POINT IN TIME

It is clear, then, that the divine plan for the redemption of the human race is still in the process of its mysterious unfolding. In the historic moment of defeat the divine promise still rings clear: God will save men through the seed of Abraham. But first He will mould. To His own requirements a remnant of His people. This remnant will learn the lesson of faithfulness to Himself.

Through humiliation and suffering they will learn the utter emptiness of the false gods of the other nations of the world. Through the failure of their worldly aims they will learn to seek the blessings of God. When, through their dispersal throughout the nations of the world the nations have heard of Jahweh, the true God, then the Just One of God will come to extend the blessings of God to all men.

THE SUFFERING SERVANT

To those who trusted in God this message of the prophets must have been most consoling. But it was accompanied, in the case of the prophet Isaias, with another message which must have been most mysterious to the people of Juda. For Isaias spoke to his compatriots not only of a great King who would save them but also of a mysterious Servant of Jahweh Who would redeem men through his sufferings. The prophecy of the Suffering Servant of Jahweh is found scattered in the Book of Isaias [Isaiah], in chapter 42:1-7; chapter 49:1-9a; chapter 50:4-9, and in chapters 52:13 to 53:12.

A LIKELY CAUSE FOR BEWILDERMENT AMONG THE CHOSEN PEOPLE

[…] This picture of the Servant of Jahweh no doubt caused much bewilderment to the Chosen People. In the first place, they were probably looking for worldly success and power rather than forgiveness of sin. This ambition looked for a powerful king-deliverer rather than the abject figure of the Servant of Jahweh. In the second place they were looking for a deliverer who would make them the rulers of the world. But, according to Isaias, they would reject the Servant of Jahweh and He would become instead the light of the Gentiles.

THE WISDOM OF GOD WILL ULTIMATELY MAKE THINGS CLEAR

It is true that the reference to the tender plant and the root might have recalled to them the ‘root of Jesse’ of whom Isaias had already spoken, the Descendant of David Who would save them. But still, it would have been difficult for them to reconcile the mighty King, the Descendant of David, with the Suffering Servant. […] But to us, who have the benefit of hindsight and the inestimable blessing of faith, we can for the moment rest easy in the thought that the wisdom of God will ultimately make all things clear.”
– Martin J. Healy, 1959

 

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PRAYER OF THE GREAT “O” ANTIPHONS

O Wisdom,
holy Word of God,
You rule all creation with power
and true concern.
Come to teach us the way of salvation.

O sacred Lord,
and Leader of ancient Israel.
You communicated with Moses
at the burning bush
and gave him the law on Mount Sinai.
Come and set us free by Your mighty arm.

O Root of Jesse,
raised up as a sign of all peoples,
in Your presence kings become mute
and the nations
worship before You.
Come to deliver us and do not delay.

O Key of David,
and Royal Power of Israel,
You open what no one can shut,
and You shut what no one can open.
Come and deliver
Your people imprisoned by darkness
and the shadow of death.

O Radiant Dawn,
You are the Brightness of eternal light
and the Sun of justice.
Come to enlighten those
who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

O King of the Gentiles
and the longed-for Ruler of the nations,
You are the cornerstone
Who make all one.
Come and save those whom You have created.

O Emmanuel,
our King and our Lawgiver,
You are the Desired of the nations
and the Saviour of all people.
Come to save us, O Lord our God!

 
 

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