Scripture Commentary for December 31st (Year B)

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FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY

 

FIRST READING

Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3

 

Here we have a poem from “Third Isaiah” prophesying the rise of Jerusalem after the Exile.  In a bold metaphor, the City itself speaks, comparing itself first to a bride of God, and then to God’s garden.  Then the voice of the prophet takes over to sing his vision of rebuilt Jerusalem as a splendid testimony of God’s glory.  The name Zion was originally that of the spike of mountain jutting out above the Kidron Valley where David built his fort; It is often called the City of David.  When Jerusalem grew up behind it, the name Zion was transferred to the entire city.  For Christians, the names Zion, City of David, and Jerusalem have all become metaphorical names for God’s heavenly kingdom.

 

SECOND READING

Galatians 4:4-7

Seven verses are missing from the middle of our lesson as it is given it to us.  No wonder it is hard to make sense of it.  In the missing verses Paul talks about privileged children who are slaves to their passions, but guarded by their trustees—an analogy to the way Jews were protected by Jewish religious law before the coming of Christ, who set them free.  In Paul’s imagined image, the children are up for adoption by God.  To God they cry joyfully, “Abba! Father.”  “Abba” is a diminutive Aramaic word for father, probably best translated as “Daddy.”  It is likely Jesus used it many times, but there is only one use recorded in the gospels, Mark 14: 36.

 

©Arthur H. Cash

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