Advent: 17 December

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise your hand on the neck of your enemies; the sons of your father shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s cub, you have grown up on prey, my son. He crouches, lies down like a lion, like a lioness—who would dare rouse him?” (Genesis 49:8-9)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s Gospel:

“A lion’s whelp is Judah.” Isn’t it clear that he represented the Father and manifested the Son? Is there any clearer way to teach that God the Son is of one nature with the Father? The one is the lion, the other the lion’s whelp. By this paltry comparison, their unity in the same nature and power is perceived. King proceeds from king, a strong one from one who is strong. Because Jacob foresaw that there would be those to claim that the Son was younger in age, he replied to them by adding, “From my seed you have come up to me. Resting you have slept like a lion and like a whelp.” And in a different passage you find that the whelp is himself “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” But the Son is not being named in such a way as to be separated from the Father. Jacob, who confesses the Son, also esteems him equal.

Moreover, he represented the Son’s incarnation in a wonderful fashion when he said, “From my seed you have come up to me.” For Christ sprouted in the womb of the Virgin like a shrub upon the earth; like a flower of pleasing fragrance, he was sent forth in the splendor of new light and came up from his mother’s vitals for the redemption of the entire world. Just so, Isaiah says, “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall come up out of the root.” The root is the household of the Jews, the rod is Mary, the flower of Mary is Christ. She is rightly called a rod, for she is of royal lineage, of the house and family of David. Her flower is Christ, who destroyed the stench of worldly pollution and poured out the fragrance of eternal life. ”

Therefore you have become acquainted with the incarnation; learn of the passion. “Resting, you have slept like a lion.” When Christ lay at rest in the tomb, it was as if he were in a kind of bodily sleep, as he himself says, “I have slept and have taken my rest and have risen up, because the Lord will sustain me.” On this account also Jacob says, “Who will arouse him?” that is, him whom the Lord will take up. Who else is there to rouse him again, unless he rouses himself by his own power and the power of the Father? I see that he was born by his own authority, I see that he died by his own will; I see that he sleeps by his own power. He did all things by his own dominion; will he need the help of someone else to rise again? Therefore he is the author of his own resurrection, he is the judge of his death; he is expected by the nations. (The Patriarchs, 4)

O God, Creator and Redeemer of human nature,
who willed that your Word should take flesh
in an ever-virgin womb,
look with favor on our prayers,
that your Only Begotten Son,
having taken to himself our humanity,
may be pleased to grant us a share in his divinity
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen