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Friday, third week of Advent

December 19, 2008

Blessed Ember Friday!

O Root of Jesse
Who stands as a sign for the people,
Before Whom kings silence their mouths,
With Whom all nations shall plead
Come to set us free without delay

Isaiah 11:10:
In 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.

Jesse was the father of King David (see Ruth 4:17, among others), the “root”, of David’s dynasty, which God promised would last forever (I Chronicles 17:11-14). Since the world will come to an end, only Jesus could fulfill this promise; Jesus, the Son of David who is King forever. (see also Isaiah 11:1, Micah 5:1, Romans 15:12, Revelation 5:5 & 22:16)

Father, You show the world the splendor of Your glory
in the coming of Christ, born of a Virgin.
Give to us true faith and love to celebrate the mystery of God made man.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.

Judges 13:2-7, 24-25 (announcement of the conception of Samson)
Psalm 71:3-6, 16-17 “Fill me with Your praise and I will sing Your glory!”
Luke 1:5-25 (announcement of the conception of St. John the Baptist)

God’s on top of things.

He’s not taken by surprise, suddenly discovering a problem and scrambling to find a solution. Before a need even arises, He has already set in motion the plan that will fill it. When the need comes to full maturity, the remedy is there to meet it.

The Israelites needed deliverance from the Philistines. We all need deliverance from sin! And on our own we can’t do a thing about it, any more than Samson’s mother or Zachariah’s wife could rid themselves of their barrenness.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” -Jeremiah 1:5

“…from my mother’s womb You are my strength” -Psalm 71:6

God knew Samson before he was conceived. He had destined this child for a rescue mission that required exceptional holiness and gave his mother special instructions to place her son under the nazirite vow even from the womb (God seems to think life begins at conception). She must avoid wine, strong drink and any unclean food even before her pregnancy. She must never let a razor touch her son’s head (Judges 13:4-5, Numbers 6:2-8). God first rescued Samson’s mother from infertility, then worked through Samson himself to rescue Israel from the raiding Philistines.

Likewise, God knew St. John the Baptist before his birth. He prophesied his coming centuries before. “Lo, I am sending My messenger to prepare the way before Me” (Malachi 3:1). “Lo, I will send you Elijah the prophet…to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children (Malachi 3:23, 24, Luke 1:17). “A herald’s voice in the desert, crying, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord’” (Isaiah 40:3, Luke 3:4). John too was to be a perpetual nazirite, born to a barren woman, filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb (Luke 1:15).

Samson’s vocation to rescue Israel from human enemies was a foreshadowing of John the Baptist’s (and Jesus’) mission to deliver us from our more deadly spiritual enemies, namely, sin and death. It is this rescue mission we celebrate in the birth of our Savior, six short days from now. May we not be found consorting with His enemies.

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