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A reflection on Psalm 109(110), by the Holy Father

Discussion in 'Catholic DIR' started by Scott1, Aug 19, 2004.

  1. Scott1

    Scott1 Well-Known Member

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    1. Following an ancient tradition, Psalm 109(110), which was just
    proclaimed, is the primary component of Sunday vespers. It appears
    in each of the four weeks in which the Liturgy of the Hours is
    articulated. Its brevity, accentuated by the exclusion in Christian
    liturgical use of verse 6, of an imprecating nature, does not imply
    the absence of exegetical and interpretative difficulties. The text
    is presented as a royal Psalm, linked to the Davidic dynasty, and
    probably refers to the enthronement rite of the sovereign. However,
    the Jewish and Christian tradition has seen in the anointed king the
    profile of the Anointed par excellence, the Messiah, the Christ.

    From this perspective, the Psalm becomes a luminous song raised by
    Christian liturgy to the Risen One on the feast day, memorial of the
    Lord's passover.

    2. There are two parts to Psalm 109(110), both characterized by the
    presence of a divine oracle. The first oracle (see verses 1-3) is
    addressed to the sovereign on the day of his solemn enthronement "at
    the right hand" of God, that is, next to the ark of the covenant in
    the temple of Jerusalem. The memory of the divine "begetting" of the
    king was part of the official protocol of his coronation and assumed
    a symbolic value of investiture and tutelage for Israel, the king
    being the lieutenant of God in the defense of justice (see verse 3).

    In the Christian re-reading that "begetting" becomes real by
    presenting Jesus Christ as true Son of God. This is what occurred in
    the Christian use of another famous royal-messianic Psalm, the
    second of the Psalter, in which this divine oracle is read: "You are
    my son, today I am your father" (Psalm 2:7).

    3. The second oracle of Psalm 109(110) has, instead, a priestly
    content (see verse 4). Formerly, the king also carried out functions
    of worship, not according to the line of the Levitical priesthood,
    but according to another relation: that of the priesthood of
    Melchizedek, the sovereign-priest of Salem, pre-Israelite Jerusalem
    (see Genesis 14:17-20).

    In the Christian perspective, the Messiah becomes the model of a
    perfect and supreme priesthood. The central part of the Letter to
    the Hebrews exalts this priestly ministry "after the order of
    Melchizedek" (5:10), seeing it incarnated fully in the person of
    Christ.

    4. The first oracle is quoted on several occasions in the New
    Testament to celebrate the messianic character of Jesus (see Matthew
    22:44; 26:64; Acts 2:34-35; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27; Hebrews 1:13).
    Christ himself, before the supreme priest and before the Jewish
    Sanhedrin, will refer explicitly to this Psalm, proclaiming that he
    will be "seated at the right hand of the divine Power, as stated in
    Psalm 109:1 (Mark 14:62; see 12:36-37).

    We will return to this Psalm in our itinerary through the texts of
    the Liturgy of the Hours. To conclude our brief presentation of this
    messianic hymn, we wish to emphasize its Christological
    interpretation.

    5. We do so with a synthesis of St. Augustine. In his "Commentary on
    Psalm 109," delivered during Lent of the year 412, he presented the
    Psalm as an authentic prophecy of the divine promises on Christ. The
    famous Father of the Church said: "It was necessary to know the only
    Son of God, who would come among men to assume man and to become man
    through the assumed nature: he would die, rise and ascend into
    heaven, and be seated at the right hand of the Father and would
    carry out among people all that he had promised. ... All this,
    therefore, had to be prophesied and announced beforehand, pointed
    out as destined to come, so that he would not cause fright by coming
    unannounced, but rather be accepted with faith and expectation. This
    Psalm is inserted in the ambit of these promises; it prophesizes, in
    both certain and explicit terms, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
    in which we cannot doubt for a moment that Christ was announced"
    ("Esposizioni sui Salmi" [Commentaries on the Psalms], III, Rome,
    1976, pp. 951,953).

    6. We now address our invocation to the Father of Jesus Christ, only
    King and perfect and eternal priest, so that he will make us a
    people of priests and prophets of peace and love, a people that
    sings Christ the King and priest who was immolated to reconcile in
    himself, in one only body, the whole of humanity, creating the new
    man (see Ephesians 2:15-16).
     
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