Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10  +  Luke 10:21-24
December 1, 2015

“Justice shall flower in His days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.”

That verse—Psalm 72:7—was chanted by the cantor in the midst of the Responsorial.  The same verse also served as the refrain, but in a significantly different form.  As the refrain we chanted, “Justice shall flourish in His time, and fullness of peace for ever.”  There are several differences between these two versions of Psalm 72:7 that can foster our meditation.

A difference between their translations concerns the verb.  The refrain uses the verb “flourish”, but during the Responsorial, the verb “flower” is used.  Regardless, it’s helpful for our meditation to note that in the Latin Vulgate translation, the verb is in fact the first word of the sentence, to emphasize that this “flowering” deserves our focus:  Florebit in diebus eius / iustitia et abundantia pacis….”  This emphasis is striking during the cold and ice of Advent, reminiscent of the dichotomies heard in the First Reading:  the wolf and the lamb, the cow and the bear; so also the ice and the flower.

Finally, these truths are qualified by the last phrase of the verse:  “till the moon be no more.”  “Justice shall flower in His days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.”  This last phrase is clearly literary in nature, not scientific.  Or is the Psalmist actually claiming that millions of years from now, when—say—a meteor destroys the moon, that God’s justice and peace will then stop flourishing?  Those who formed the refrain as a paraphrase of Psalm 72:7 protect us from the possible confusion caused by this phrase “till the moon be no more” by substituting for it “for ever”.

Nonetheless, the more intelligent, literary phrase—“till the moon be no more”—brings to our minds our Blessed Mother, to whom we are praying intently during this novena of days leading up to her Immaculate Conception.  In the culture of our Faith, “the moon” is a symbol for Our Lady.  The ice and the flower remind us of the miracle of Tepeyac.

God the Holy Spirit both inspired the Psalmist and served as the Power by which Mary conceived Our Savior.  In the light of the Holy Spirit, we give thanks that just as all generations will call her “Blessed”, unto the eternal praise of the Communion of Saints, so justice and peace shall flower in God’s days:  which is to say, eternally.[1]

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[1] If the translation of this verse—Psalm 72:7—were to follow the Vulgate more faithfully, the two subjects would be connected, rather than being split by the verb [“Florebit in diebus eius / iustitia et abundantia pacis, / donec auferatur luna.”].  The translation would run:  “Justice and profound peace shall flower in His days, till the moon be no more.”  Putting these two subjects together like this reminds us that in God, justice and peace always and only exist together.  Always, either they flourish together, or neither flourishes.