Speak Lord: Brother and King

crowns

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

In his days justice shall flourish
and peace till the moon fails.
He shall rule from sea to sea,
from the Great River to earth’s bounds.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

May his name be blessed for ever
and endure like the sun.
Every tribe shall be blessed in him,
all nations bless his name.

In his days justice shall flourish, and peace till the moon fails.

Psalm 71:1-2,7-8,12-13,17

The Responsorial Psalm on Sunday, tomorrow, the 2nd Sunday of Advent, has us place our trust in the king – at least in the king helped by God’s sharing of His wisdom and judgement.

Israel’s experience of human kingship was troubled and variable. In choosing to have a human king, Israel slighted the Lord, her true King. The kings who ruled were sometimes good, even very good, but often were bad and too often very bad. Israel was rent apart by the kings who ruled after her, and driven into exile.

This psalm probably has its origins in the Jewish royal cult, perhaps in the coronation liturgy. How does it function for us Christians now? In part, surely, we see it as a prophetic cry for the Messiah King, fulfilled in Jesus, Christ the King. He it is who

shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor.

Perhaps we might pray, too, for those of our brothers and sisters, who here, now, exercise leadership in the Church and in the world, that they also will cooperate with the grace of God; govern for the common good, and especially careful for the most vulnerable.

Stained glass. Palais des Papes, Avignon. (c) 2013.

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