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Thursday, third week of Advent

December 20, 2007

Blessed Thursday!

O Key of David
And Scepter of the house of Israel
What You open, no one shuts
What You shut, no one opens
Come, deliver from the chains of prison
Those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death

Isaiah 22:22:
And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder:
and he shall open, and none shall shut:
and he shall shut, and none shall open.
(see also Isaiah 9:6, 42:7, Revelation 3:7)

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14 (a virgin shall bear a son and name him Emmanuel)
Psalm 24:1-6 “Let the Lord enter; He is King of Glory”
+ Luke 1:26-38 (the Annunciation)

The house of David had its villains as well as its heroes.

“Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?” (Isaiah 7:13).

Ahaz (not to be confused with Ahab, Jezebel’s husband) was biologically a son of David (several generations removed) and rightful king of Judah. Even his immediate father, King Jotham, had pleased the Lord. But Ahaz was not living up to his heritage. If he heard of an idol, he worshipped it, even immolating his sons by fire (II Chronicles 28:2-4). When the Arameans defeated him, he worshiped their gods. “Since it was the gods of the kings of Aram who helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me also” (II Chronicles 28:23). To add insult to injury, he set up this pagan altar in God’s holy temple (II Kings 16:10-13) and plundered the temple of its gold and silver in payment to his allies (II Chronicles 28:21). He would rather rob God and trust men–and even trust their gods!–than submit to God and honor Him.

Yet God kept pursuing this clueless king. He allowed disasters to strike as a wake-up call (II Chronicles 28:5). He showed mercy by ordering the conquering army of Israel to return the captives they’d taken from Judah (II Chronicles 28:15). God even sent the prophet Isaiah to personally challenge Ahaz to put Him to the test (Isaiah 7:11).

“Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be as deep as the nether word, or high as the sky!” (Isaiah 7:11)

Ahaz was not up to the challenge. He was as steadfast in his rejection of God as God was steadfast in His love of Ahaz. Even so, God would not be outdone. He would demonstrate His steadfast love for His people through a son, born of a virgin, whose very name would proclaim that God was with them (Isaiah 7:14).

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures for ever” (Psalm 136:1).

Though God’s people spit in His Face, He would not abandon them.

Roughly 700 years later God again approached the house of David, now represented by the Virgin of the prophesy. She was as pure and faithful as Ahaz had been corrupt and traitorous. She needed no sign. She simply asked about the safeguarding of her purity. With her “fiat”, the steadfast love of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. God Himself took on flesh in her womb.

This Love is coming to meet us. May we be as receptive as Mary.

In today’s treasure hunt, let’s look for a symbol of this steadfast, eternal love. The wreath, whether it be an Advent wreath bedecked with candles or a Christmas wreath bright with red bows, symbolizes both eternal life (because it’s made of ever-greens) and the eternal love of God. A circle, like the love of God, has no beginning and no end.

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