Tag Archives: Scripture

Humble and Contrite Hearts

Lord, as we begin our Lenten journey with you,
we recall what you desire: a humble and contrite heart.

You don’t desire our bank accounts;
you don’t quantify our popularity;
you don’t hope for our job titles;
you don’t seek out our righteous ideologies;
you don’t long to see how pretty or handsome we are.

You desire only where our hearts are; and the rest will follow.

And you do not desire a perfect heart, but a heart broken and wounded.
A heart of hope and a heart of sorrow.
Give us these hearts, O God.
Give us hearts that are unafraid.
Give us hearts that lead us where others fear to go.
Give us hearts that listen humbly and burn with a passion for justice.
Give us humble and contrite hearts.

The Advent Versions of “OMG!”

For the seven days before Christmas eve, beginning December 17th, the daily prayers of the Church include seven different exclamations to the Messiah.  These are called the “O Antiphons.”

The importance of the O Antiphons is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. Praying the O Antiphons connects us with an important aspect of the Messiah’s coming.

Lets look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiahs related prophecies. (Many of these passages from Isaiah are found in the beautiful movements of George Frideric Handel’s great oratorio, Messiah.  Above is a link to the most famous of these movements: the Hallelujah Chorus).

O Sapientia: O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation. Isaiah had prophesied, The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. (11:2-3), and Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom. (28:29).

O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Isaiah had prophesied, But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the lands afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. (11:4-5); and Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us. (33:22).

O Radix Jesse: O Flower of Jesses stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. Isaiah had prophesied, But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (11:1), and on that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in Davids city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).

O Clavis David: O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom. Isaiah had prophesied, I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open. (22:22), and His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from Davids throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever. (9:6).

O Oriens: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Isaiah had prophesied, The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown. (9:1).

O Rex Gentium: O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. Isaiah had prophesied, For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. (9:5), and He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. (2:4) .

O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God. Isaiah had prophesied, The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.

Reflection by Susan Rieke, SCL, McGilley Chair for Liberal Studies

The Christmas “Tree”

Genealogy

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,… Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,…Solomon…at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah…Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations…

“Behold , the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

                Matthew 1:1-17, 1:23

 

I never got much from this genealogy.   But, it would have been bursting with meaning for first-century Jews.  To them, the names weren’t just names:  each name told a story and recalled important places, events, and historical periods.   Matthew strategically constructed this passage to show that the climax of Israel’s history was in Jesus.

“Genealogy” can be translated as “genesis ” or “beginning.”  The title “Son of David” linked Jesus to David and Solomon.  This recalled Israel’s glory days when God promised an everlasting dynasty to David.  Also, dividing the generations into 3 sets of 14 would recall David’s name.  The Hebrew consonants in “David” had number values:  d=4, w=6, d=4, totaling 14.  This subtly proclaimed that Jesus was the “thrice-Davidic Son of David.”

Then the genealogy turns somber.  It lists the generations of the Babylonian deportation and exile, a result of Israel sinning and breaking their covenant with God.   This period wasn’t just a painful memory to first-century Jews.  They still continued to feel the loss of their kingdom, land, and the Ark of the Covenant (God’s presence in the temple).

Then, the genealogy turns hopeful, showing that the Davidic line had NOT died out.  As “Christ” (“Anointed One”), Jesus would be a new Davidic king.  As “Jesus” (“God saves”), he would bring about the New Covenant era of forgiveness of sin.  As “Emmanuel” (“God is with us”), he would dwell among the Jews like the old Ark of the Covenant, and he would also be a blessing for the whole world.  This is what first-century Jews would have been longing for.

(Taken from Mystery of the Kingdom:  On the Gospel of Matthew and Dawn of the Messiah:  The Coming of Christ in Scripture, by Edward Sri)

Reflection by Cathy Sullivan, Applications Coordinator

Fear Not!

Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings,
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!

Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Isaiah 40: 9-11

After reading this small passage, the line that stood out the most for me is “fear not to cry out” that the Lord is coming. This is important to me because this is a problem that I had to overcome. During the second week of classes this semester, I walked into Campus Ministry knowing that I wanted to be involved with Bible study. I would soon be asked to lead Bible study and I knew that this was important because I believed that it was my duty to spread the word of God.

So, I walked into it with my head held high and with great expectation that the Lord would lead me through. Then, a couple of days before the first Bible study I froze up. I no longer had any confidence in myself. I began to tell myself that I mess up too much to spread the word of God; I will say something that will mess everything up, and I am useless. The night before Bible study I stayed up late reading over the material because I just wanted everything to go right.

I remember walking through the doors of Maria Hall and feeling relieved. I prayed that the Lord remove every sense of fear and anxiety and, because he is a mighty God, he came through. I am not perfect, but I serve a perfect God and I believe that he will soon return; I want to be ready on the day he comes. I have decided to stop living in fear of anything because I believe God; I believe that whatever he places before me is for me. I encourage you to do the same.

Reflection by Cenyeaa Williams, Junior Business Major