Late Advent Weekday

Reading Jeremiah 23:5-8
Gospel Matthew 1:18-25

He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment.

The Responsorial Psalm at Holy Mass both on December 17 and 18 is from Psalm 72. The first strophe (that is, set of verses) proclaimed each of these days is the same. The later sets of verses differ between the 17th and 18th. But consider that first set, Psalm 72:1-2:

O God, with your judgment endow the king, / and with your justice, the king’s son; / He shall govern your people with justice / and your afflicted ones with judgment.

These opening verses clearly reflect the subject of the entire psalm. The header of this psalm in the American translation of the breviary is “The Messiah’s royal power”, which closely reflects the Latin original: “Regia Messiæ potestas”. The more simple header of the New American translation of the Bible is “A Prayer for the King”.

Regardless of the differences, each header points to the royal quality of the psalm. That the Responsorial on the first two “late Advent weekdays” comes from this regal psalm points to the mission for which God the Son was sent into our world. Consider the four lines of Psalm 72:1-2 in reference to the Son of God. The first two lines call for God to endow the king with His own “judgment” and “justice”, while the latter two foresee that the king will govern God’s people with “justice” and “judgment”.

Focus these four lines on the Son of God even more specifically by reading them in light of Jesus’ self-giving on Calvary. As the Son of God, Jesus’ “judgment” and “justice” reflect His divine nature, that from eternity He always has shared in God’s own nature. But through His mission on earth, He spends Himself to “govern [God’s] people” as the Good Shepherd, who came into this world to seek the lost and lead them into the bosom of His own Father. This mission is why He was born at Bethlehem.