God Restores His People
- Reading I: Zechariah 2:5-15 (passim)
- Responsorial Psalm: Jeremiah 31
- Gospel Reading: Luke 9:43-45
The Restoration of God’s People
Zechariah’s oracle reports a vision, the third in a series. In the vision of the workmen, Zechariah sees a man measuring the city of Jerusalem. He says that it will be unwalled so as to give room to the people and animals which will be dwelling in it. This will happen because more exiles will be coming back (vv. 10-17). It is the Lord who will make this possible. And though Jerusalem will be without walls, God Himself will be its protection. Just as a column of fire guided the people of the Exodus, so now a wall of encircling fire will protect Jerusalem (9). God will dwell in the midst of His people (9.15); Judah will now be His portion (16).
Jeremiah’s Hymn of Restoration
Jeremiah 31 is the prophet Jeremiah’s hymn regarding the restoration of Israel. The hymn was probably composed during the covenant renewal held by King Josiah on the occassion of the discovery of the book of Deuteronomy.
The hymn refers to the restoration of the Northern kingdoms, referred to as Ephraim. It should be remembered that Ephraim and Manasseh were both children of Joseph, son of Jacob via Rachel. But it was Ephraim who would later become dominant among the northern tribes and in the prophet Hosea even becomes a synonym for "Israel".
The northern tribes never returned however. Before Jeremiah’s ministry in Judah ended, the exile of the southern kingdom became imminent. Even Jeremiah had to accompany those who went into Egypt as refugees. A second hymn of restoration was added at a later date (vv. 23-30) which included a prophecy about the restoration of Jerusalem (vv. 35-40)
In between these prophecies of restoration — of the North and of the South — is the oracle about the new covenant (vv. 31-34). God Himself will restore His own people on the strength of a new covenant that will be written in the hearts of men. The covenant-theology of the New Testament is based on these verses.
Jesus Prediction of the Betrayal of the Son of Man
In Luke, this short passage follows after the Transfiguration and the Healing of the Boy Possessed. To note is the way Luke places the second prediction of his passion within the context of the people’s amazement at the healing he just performed. Luke omits here the episode where the disciples ask him why they were unable to drive away the evil spirit. Instead, he inserts the second prediction of the passion putting into stark relief the "defeat" he is going to suffer in the hands of men. The power over the demon that Jesus exercised is in contrast with his declaration that he will be handed over to the power of men. It is as if it was easier for him to vanquish demonic powers than to prevent human beings from the designs that they have in their hearts. And the disciples cannot imagine what he possibly meant since they have seen the marvels that he can perform. "It was hidden [parakekalummenon] from them."
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