The Lord Fights for Us

This word of the LORD of hosts came:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:

I am intensely jealous for Zion,
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts,
the holy mountain.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.
The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible
in the eyes of the remnant of this people,
shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also,
says the LORD of hosts?
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun,
and from the land of the setting sun.
I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.
They shall be my people, and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.
(Zechariah 8:1-8)

Scripture Study

8:1 Lord of hosts The divine title here is used throughout the prophets (e.g., Isa 1:9; Jer 6:6; Mic 4:4; Hab 2:13; Zeph 2:9; Hag 1: 2; Zech 1:3; Mal 1:4). The title asserts the LORD’s role as commander-in-chief of the heavenly armies.

8:2 Zion Another name for Jerusalem, “Zion” symbolized God’s choice of the city as His dwelling. God’s care for Zion is a major theme in Isaiah. Isaiah addresses the question of whether God will preserve the city precisely because it is His special dwelling, or whether He will allow it to be purged and purified through judgment. I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred to jealous wrath the LORD is fiercely protective of His people. All nations who come against Israel will experience the wrath of God (see Gen 12:3).

8:3 I will dwell within Jerusalem A reference to the messianic reign (Psa 2:6), when the LORD Himself will reign over the entire earth from Jerusalem (Joel 3:16–17; Zech 14:9; see note on Zeph 1:4). the holy mountain Jerusalem is situated at the top of a mountain.

8:4 Old men and old women Symbolizes the peaceful state of the city.

8:5 boys and girls Creates a merism with the old men and women of Zech 8:4.

8:6 Even if this should seem impossible Zechariah depicts his audience as skeptical of this kind of transformation. At this time, Jerusalem was largely unpopulated and full of ruins (see Neh 7:4).

8:7 my people Refers to the Israelites, whom the LORD redeemed from Egypt (Exod 3:7, 10; 5:1; 6:7; 7:4, 16; 8:1). I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun and from the land of the setting sun Represents all nations on the earth.

8:8 they will dwell within Jerusalem The gathering of the Jews to the land of Israel is a common theme in the prophets (e.g., Ezek 20:33–44; Amos 9:14–15; Zeph 3:20). They shall be my people Compare Hosea 2:23. with faithfulness and justice This situation will be the opposite of Isa 48:1, which uses the same words.

Scripture Reflection

God will fight on our behalf. This is the message of the Prophet Zechariah. Zechariah also tells God’s people to carry out the tasks of Go by rebuilding his temple. As God’s people renew their relationship with Him, after their time in exile, they must also renew their worship. To do this, they need to continue rebuilding their place of worship, the temple.

At times, we need to rebuild the temple in our hearts. We need to refocus on God and make room for him. God will gather us to himself, to worship him and honor him, and this will transform everything! We simply have to respond to God; to make room for Him in our lives; to worship with our entire being.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Two Sons

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
(Matthew 21:28-32)

Scripture Study

21:28–32 Despite the temple authorities’ evasive answer, Jesus exposes their rejection of John the Baptist with a parable about a man with two sons. The father asks his sons to work in the vineyard, an Old Testament image for Israel that Jesus has already utilized (20:1–16; Isa 5:1–7). The first son refuses his father. In a culture where sons are to honor and obey their fathers (Sir 3:1–16), the son’s initial I will not is a shameful act of defiance. But he later changed his mind and went out into the field. Although the second son agreed to work the field and even honorably addressed his father as “lord” (translated “sir” in the NAB), in the end he disobeyed and did not do the father’s will—reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching in 7:21 about those who call him “Lord” but do not do the Father’s will and do not enter the kingdom.

Obviously, the first son is the one who did his father’s will. Even the chief priests and elders recognize that. But what Jesus says next would have utterly dumbfounded them. Jesus tells them that the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before you. Tax collectors and prostitutes were considered to be at the bottom of the socioreligious scale and outside God’s covenant—the kind of people the chief priests and elders looked down on the most. Yet, like the first son, these notorious sinners, who rebelled initially, repented when they heard the exhortation of John the Baptist. That Jesus would say these sinful outsiders will enter God’s kingdom before the chief priests and elders would have been completely astounding—and offensive.

At the same time, Jesus links the chief priests and elders with the second son. They had the law, and by taking office they affirmed that they would do God’s will. But when God sent his prophet John the Baptist calling all to repent, they did not believe him. They will find themselves watching the sinners enter God’s kingdom before them. It is implied that if they fail to repent, they will be left out of the kingdom (8:11–12). 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel gives us the parable of the two sons, which Jesus uses as a comment on the Pharisees rejection of John the Baptist: “When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did”.

Various people come to the Baptist and ask what they must do in order to be more pleasing to God. And he gives them very concrete instruction. To tax collectors, he says, “Don’t take more than you should”. To soldiers, he says, “Don’t extort and bully people and don’t expect more in pay than you deserve”. To those who have much, he says, “Share what you have with those who have less”. In other words, he urges the basic works of justice.

Like his religious and philosophical colleagues, the Baptist assumes here that this moral reform in the direction of justice can be undertaken through our own efforts.

But when people suggest that he, the Baptist, might be the Messiah, he emphatically clarifies the matter. The last and greatest of the prophets says, “There is one coming who is mightier than I. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals”.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.