Thursday, December 22, 2016
“O King of Nations”
The Responsorial verse tells us to rejoice because of what God’s divine power does for us: “My heart exults in the Lord my Savior” (1Samuel 2: 1-8).
1Samuel 1: 24-28 is the story that inspired the Responsorial verses. Hannah, who was barren, prayed and conceived a son, Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord’s service in the temple. Her exultant hymn is echoed in a gentler way in Mary’s Magnificat Luke 1: 46-56. Both are saying that God “casts down” the proud, the mighty and the rich, and “lifts up” the lowly, the weak and the poor.
The point is not that God has something against the rich and the strong, but rather that their power is nothing compared to his, and he can “do great things” for anyone he chooses. Therefore we should not trust in human resources or be concerned about the lack of them. The action that counts is God’s divine action — for us, in us and through us. And sometimes the absence of the human is precisely what reveals the presence of the divine, as we saw when reading Matthew 1: 18-24 last Saturday and Sunday. Hannah’s barrenness made it clear that she conceived by God’s power. And in the virgin Mary the absence of any human father was proof that Jesus’ Father was divine.
Jesus sent his first disciples on mission without any human provisions to make it clear that they trusted in God (Matthew 10: 7-10) — not just to provide for their needs, but above all to make their labor fruitful. We can accomplish nothing of value for the Kingdom except through the power of Jesus working in and through us: “Abide in me as I abide in you…. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 4-5). For the fruit of our labor to be divine, our labor itself must be divine. And it is, because “in Christ” we are divine.
The O Antiphon recognizes this: “O King of all nations and keystone of the Church, come save us humans, whom you fashioned from the dust.” Jesus is “King of all nations” because he governs through the power of none. His power is not human but divine. And he can use it both for us and through us, whom he “fashioned from the dust.” Therefore we say with Hannah “My heart exults in the Lord my Savior.”
Initiative: If you want to live life to the full, be Christ! Trust in the divine. When you feel encouraged or discouraged, ask why. If it is because of the abundance or shortage of human resources, recall that you can accomplish nothing except by acting on the level of God, letting Jesus Christ work with you, in you and through you.