Psalm 114: A Reflection on Easter

April 24, 2008

The second evening psalm throughout the Easter Octave is from Psalm 114(113A).

Psalm 114(113.1) In exitu Israel

ALLELUIA!

1 When Israel came forth from Egypt,
Jacob’s sons from an alien people
2 Judah became the Lord’s temple,
Israel became his kingdom.

3 The sea fled at the sight:
the Jordan turned back on its course,
4 the mountains leapt like rams
and the hills like yearling sheep.

5 Why was it, sea, that you fled,
that you turned back, Jordan, on your course?
6 Mountains, that you leapt like rams;
hills, like yearling sheep?

7 Tremble, O earth, before the Lord,
in the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool
and flint into a spring of water.

Isn’t it interesting to sing this psalm on Easter? Why would we choose to sing this psalm every evening throughout the Easter Octave?

The psalm describes the moment when God brought Israel out of Egypt. But if we read and reflect slowly, getting out of Egypt is not the main message. Why? Because even in the language itself, that’s not the main clause.

In verse one, the sentence “when Israel came forth from Egypt,” only leads to verse two, which is the main message of the Psalm.

Judah became the Lord’s temple,
Israel became his kingdom.

It is when God deliver them from Egypt, Judah became the Lord’s temple, and Israel became His kingdom. The main message is that now Judah is the Lord’s Temple!

What does this signify? A temple for them is God’s dwelling place. It is the house of God. So when they say Judah became the Lord’s temple, it simply means that God dwells in Judah. God dwell in Israel! He is in their midst!

And isn’t it what is described in the following verses?

5 Why was it, sea, that you fled,
that you turned back, Jordan, on your course?
6 Mountains, that you leapt like rams;
hills, like yearling sheep?

7 Tremble, O earth, before the Lord,
in the presence of the God of Jacob,

“Tremble, O earth, before the Lord”, the Psalmist said. Why? because the Lord of heaven and earth now walks on earth. Tremble, because you are in the presence of God. Tremble O earth, because now God dwells in our midst. He is walking with Israel.

It’s wonderful to see that God dwells in not a building or a fixed place or location. He dwells on Judah. He dwells on his “people”. And when Israel walks, He walks (Actually the more appropriate is when He walks, Israel walks).

We, the church, is the new Israel. We, the church, is God’s Holy Temple. We, the church, proclaim that God is Emmanuel (God is with us). What is its relation to Easter?

Jesus, after cleansing the temple, said

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19

And John commented in verse 21

[21] But he spoke of the temple of his body.
[22] When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has raised the new Temple, the new God’s dwelling. It is in his body, the church, that now God dwells. The LORD of heaven and earth dwells in his people.

The story of Israel prefigures what God will fulfill in his Church. In his church now He dwells.

Do we see this? Do we recognize it? It is in the church that God walks on the earth.

“7 Tremble, O earth, before the Lord,
in the presence of the God of Jacob,”

And so the mystery of the Incarnation and the mystery of Easter links together.

” And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:14

It is in Incarnation that the Son of God took on humanity, and it is in Easter, he raises humanity to God forever. And just as we cannot separate the Godhead of Jesus with his humanity, so now, we too cannot separate man with God. Thanks be to Jesus Christ our Lord.

[35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
[36] As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
[37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
[38] For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
[39] nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

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Psalm 110: a reflection on Easter

April 12, 2008

Throughout the Easter octave, the evening prayer starts with this psalm 110:

Psalm 110(109) Dixit Dominus

1 The Lord’s revelation to my Master:
“Sit on my right:
your foes I will put beneath your feet.”

2 The Lord will yield from Zion
your scepter of power:
rule in the midst of all your foes.

3 A prince from the day of your birth
on the holy mountains;
from the womb before the dawn I begot you.

4 The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.
“You are a priest for ever,
a priest like Melchizedek of old.”

5 The Master standing at your right hand
will shatter kings in the day of his wrath.

6 He, the judge of the nations
will heap high the bodies;
heads shall be scattered far and wide.

7 He shall drink from the stream by the wayside
and therefore he shall lift up his head.

As I pray this psalm day by day. I felt that we are drawn into the dialogue of the Father and the Son. We are drawn into the relationship between the two which is one.

The psalmist starts by saying that the LORD (YAHWEH) speak to his master,

“Sit on my right:
your foes I will put beneath your feet.”

And Jesus in Matthew 22:41-46 refers to himself as the Master of the psalmist. And so the LORD says to Jesus “sit on my right, your foes I will put beneath your feet”.

But the following few verses, the psalmist begins to address the Master, the Son of God.

2 The Lord will yield from Zion
your scepter of power:
rule in the midst of all your foes.

3 A prince from the day of your birth
on the holy mountains;
from the womb before the dawn I begot you.

God the Father will bring Jesus victory in the midst of all his foes. Jesus is the prince from the beginning. In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God (John 1:1). And the psalmist continues…

4 The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.
“You are a priest for ever,
a priest like Melchizedek of old.”

Through his death and resurrection, Jesus has become our high priest. Through his sacrifice on the cross, he has offered up mankind to God. This is a perfect offering that is pleasing to the Lord.

This is an interesting part. On verse 5, the psalmist starts to address the LORD,

5 The Master standing at your right hand
will shatter kings in the day of his wrath.

6 He, the judge of the nations
will heap high the bodies;
heads shall be scattered far and wide.

7 He shall drink from the stream by the wayside
and therefore he shall lift up his head.

It’s interesting because, the psalmist is drawn to converse with the Master and the LORD. He first talk to the Master and what the LORD is doing for the Master. Then he talks to the LORD telling how the Master will reign victoriously.

It is enlightening to read this psalm in the light of Easter. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, God has made him both Lord and Saviour. It is on that Cross that he became our high priest offering up himself with his humanity to the Father.

But it is also in the light of Easter we can understand this conversation. It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we are drawn into the conversation between the Father and the Son. By his death and resurrection, we are drawn into the eternal relationship of God the Father and God the Son, into their loving relationship.

It is the fruit of Easter that we can call God, “Abba!”. Just as Jesus calls his Father “Abba”. It is through Easter that we are called children of God, and that is who we are!

“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1

Indeed, it is through Easter, that we obtain eternal Life. We today are confused with many opinions about God. Sometimes we are also confused what Jesus has done in our lives. Is Jesus necessary?

Yes, He is necessary. It is only through him that we can be drawn into this Eternal conversation between God the Father and the Son. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And only through him, we can obtain Eternal Life.

“And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3


Pope Benedict’s homily during Easter

March 25, 2008

Wonderful reflection, check these two homilies: