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.

Speak Lord: Our King

david-king

All the tribes of Israel then came to David at Hebron. ‘Look’ they said ‘we are your own flesh and blood. In days past when Saul was our king, it was you who led Israel in all their exploits; and the Lord said to you, “You are the man who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you shall be the leader of Israel.”’

So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a pact with them at Hebron in the presence of the Lord, and they anointed David king of Israel.

2 Samuel 5:1-3

Today is the feast of Christ the King, and the last Sunday of the Church’s Year. It is also the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Kingship is a challenging concept in the Old Testament. Israel chooses to have an earthly king and in so doing jeopardises her relationship with her one true King, namely God.

Her first king was Saul, and by this point in 2 Samuel Israel is all too aware of his shortcomings. She knows David’s better qualities, but has yet to learn of his weaknesses. God guarantees the line of David, but that line brings disaster on Israel, leading to the exile and loss of the Northern tribes and then the humiliation and exile of the Southern tribes.

Israel and her kings are unfaithful. Then comes the shoot from the stump of Jesse, and the King of kings is born, Jesus. A King unlike kings he wins salvation not for a people and a time, but for all peoples and all times. Jesus achieves what has seemed but a fanciful dream – and he invites us to share in the fullness of it.

We live in earthly kingdoms and republics but are invited even here invited to live as his brothers and sisters in the Kingdom.

Israel anointed David for his kingship. We are anointed in Baptism and Confirmation to share in Christ’s.

  • How would you describe your king?
  • In which of his qualities would you most like his help to grow?

David crowned by Samuel. All Saints church, Leamington Spa. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: The love of the Lord is forever.

David's Tomb

The psalm at Sunday’s Mass, the 4th Sunday of Advent, picks up the Lord’s promise to David, and makes it reason not only for David’s giving thanks, but our joining him in giving praise.

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

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.

‘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.

‘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.’

I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.

Psalm 88:2-5,27,29

We are the present recipients of the fulfilment of the promises to David. Promises fulfilled not by an earthly kingdom and royal lineage, but by the eternal kingship of Christ crucified and risen again, and promising to be with us for ever.

In the mystery of God’s love even we finite creatures are on the threshold of eternal life. The love of God calls us to life and offers to hold us to this life for ever.

Photograph of the sarcophagus venerated on Mount Zion as the Tomb of David.  (c) 2013, Allen Morris.