Advent Journal: Day 17–O Radix Jesse

archangel-gabriel-strike-zacharias-dumb-ivanov-alexander

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Luke 1:19-20

God is man’s glory. Man is the vessel which receives God’s action and all his wisdom and power…
If man, without being puffed up or boastful, has a right belief regarding created things and their divine Creator, who, having given them being, holds them all in his power, and if man perseveres in God’s love, and in obedience and gratitude to him, he will receive greater glory from him. It will be a glory which will grow ever brighter until he takes on the likeness of the one who died for him.
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.”
Judges 13:3-5
The story of John the Baptist’s birth is an echo of the two great biblical stories of the Hebrew scriptures–the birth of Samson, recalled in today’s readings, and the birth of the prophet Saul.  In those stories, a a barren woman is blessed with a son–the unnamed mother of Samson by angel, and Hannah, the mother of Saul, prays and the priest Eli prays for her.  Though the story of Samson more closely parallels that of John the Baptist, the Magnificat of Mary is a direct echo of the prayer of Hannah in First Samuel.  What is notable, however, is that in the New Testament, how Zechariah, the priest, lacks faith in Gabriel’s annunciation.  In fact, it is unusual that he reveals himself, as the angel in the Samson story does not.   It is almost as if he is displaying his pedigree for Zechariah, who is so quick to doubt his word.  When challenged by the doubting priest, he offers no explanation, but merely states who he is:  God’s messenger.  It is the angels, of course, who announce the new of the birth of Christ in Luke, but it is notable that Gabriel says he was there to “announce this good news” and punishes Zechariah for his unbelief.  The good news is for those can receive it; kings and priests will shut their mouths who cannot believe, when the King of All has come.  Zechariah comes to believe, but it is noteworthy the reversals here in the Gospels: the wives acquiesce freely, but Zechariah and Joseph have to be prodded into belief.   While we await our salvation, we grow tired of hope, cold and slack in our belief.  It easy to forget when it is so far off.   Like Samson, our destiny is set from the womb, for man is that unique part of his creation that can become like the Creator.  Out of the billions of planets, in all the galaxies, around all the stars, he chose man for his revelation.  Like our moon that receives its light from our sun, so do we humankind derive our glory from the one who made us.  Today, and throughout our lives, we have had and will have many messengers; let us heed their words, and be not unbelieving.  For what awaits us is the glory of our Lord,  in whom we hope, and whose word does not fail.

~ by Alypius on December 19, 2017.

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