Posted by: livingscripture | December 15, 2014

THIRD MONDAY in ADVENT

From the Word of the Day

“The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor, the utterance of the man whose eye is true, the utterance of one who hears what God says, and knows what the Most High knows, of one who sees what the Almighty sees, enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.  I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: a star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.”

(Numbers 24: 2-17)

How should we live this WordRevelation20-11WhiteThroneFromSky_250

Today’s first reading briefly speaks of the utterance of Balaam.  It lights our joy and our hope in the eager anticipation of holy Christmas that is coming because it lets us perceive horizons of a radiant star that shines brightly from Jacob.  Our eyes constantly turn toward the light of the star that comes to illumine us!

Balaam was a pagan diviner who was called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the people of Israel in his name before the battle.  But God intervenes, and Balaam cannot pronounce the curse.  He absolutely cannot do it.  Even if he wants to curse, the words that come from his mouth are only of blessing.  “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob; your encampments, O Israel!”

Here a great instruction comes to us from a pagan diviner in this Advent season.  May our mouths never utter words of malediction for anyone, but learn only to pronounce words of benediction for all our sisters and brothers.  The Spirit accomplishes something even greater through Balaam.  In fact, he predicts the coming of a mysterious personage who will rise from Jacob like a bright star.  This is one of the first oracles of Biblical tradition that is later re-read in a Messianic key until the affirmation of Christ Himself in the last book of the Bible, “I am the radiant star of morning”.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will ponder on these words and thank God that I have seen its fulfillment in the coming of Christ. 

O Star that rises, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice, Come to illumine those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death. (O Antiphon of December 21)  St. Ignatius of Antioch is an authoritative witness of this ancient tradition.  In fact, in his well known ‘Hymn of the Star’, cited below, in a poetic moment of great effect, he sees shine in the sky a star more brilliant than all the others:  the New Man, Christ the Lord, Son of God and of the Virgin Mary. 

The voice of St. Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr 

A star of heaven shone more than all the other stars.

Its light was unspeakable, and its newness aroused awe.

All the other stars, together with the sun and the moon, were in chorus around the star.

But it was superior to all with its light.

 


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