Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Advent 1, Tuesday

The days are surely coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.
In those days and at that time
I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David;
and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
And this is the name by which it will be called:
"The LORD is our righteousness."

- Jeremiah 33:14-16, First Reading for the First Sunday in Advent 2009

A righteous Branch that will spring up... for David. Leave aside for the moment what a "righteous Branch" might be and look at that concluding prepositional phrase. "For David." A Branch for the king, for the governor, for the leader and caretaker of a people. For a person whose primary duty is to care for the needs of others.

Which leads right into the payoff: Thanks to this mysterious "righteous Branch," the one who has been crowned a caretaker "shall execute justice and righteousness in the land." It is not the righteous Branch who executes justice and righteousness - though of course the execution would not be possible without this Branch. No, it is David who plays this part; it is David for whom the branch has been sprung, and it is by David that the justice and righteousness will come to be.

It is, in fact, the primary purpose of the king, the governor, the leader, the caretaker. Not conquering foreign lands. Not acquiring a great wealth of treasure. Not even keeping everyone happy and content so that the king's opulent living can go merrily on. No: The primary purpose of the one who has received the great gift of the righteous Branch is to carry out justice and righteousness. It is why the Branch has been given at all.

Of course, we do not have a David, nor a king. We live in a democratic land, where we share the kingship with each other; we are all governors, all caretakers of each other. We are all Davids.

So if we were to find ourselves living in those days and at that time, if by some heavenly miracle we were to be given the gift of the righteous Branch, if the day were to come and the promise were to be fulfilled, well, then, the next thing to happen seems pretty clear.

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