My word for this Fourth Sunday is forever. 

 

The antiphon is “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

 

Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., translates goodness as steadfast love.[1]

 

The Visitation is the pertinent decade of the Rosary, the second of the Joyful Mysteries.

 

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

 

2 Samuel 7:9 and Psalm 89:29 are related.[2]  The Deuteronomist wrote 2 Samuel 7 during the Babylonian exile.  Scholars find three phases in the development of 2 Samuel 7.  The first phase was leading up to the Exile, when there was tension between whether or not there should be a king besides Yahweh.  The promise was to the seed of David in general.  There was tension between whether Israel should remain tribal, symbolized by the tabernacle at Shiloh or should become monarchial, symbolized by the temple in Jerusalem.  King David himself never had the royal title nor did he build the temple.  The second phase specified the promise to Solomon who did build the temple.  The final phase, during which the Deuteronomist wrote,[3] was exilic, as the Jews begin to realize that they were to look for a Messiah.[4]  Mary and Elizabeth were among those keeping the faith.

 

The notion of forever affects this reading with the throne of David, a throne that is to last forever, regardless of how faithful the royal lineage may be.[5]  While Luke 20:41 and Acts 13:22-36 have high praise for David, the Davidic narratives themselves in the books of Samuel and Kings portray a less attractive picture, especially relative to his interpersonal relationships with his wives, children, and political ambitions.[6]

 

verse 1          When King David was settled in his palace.

 

Saint Jerome[7] uses domo or house for palace, as does Douay-Rheims.[8]  2 Samuel is 2 Kings in Douay-Rheims.

 

My reason for checking my translations with Douay-Rheims is that Douay-Rheims was first published in 1609.  At least the Douay version of the Old Testament was first published in 1609.  I am not sure about the Confraternity Edition of the New Testament, though there is an 1826 date on the title page.  That 1609 date is before the current dynamic equivalence became ingrained.  Since I am coming from the Catholic tradition, my first view is to Douay-Rheims, the translation I used growing up.

 

verse 2b                  “Here I am living in a house of cedar.

                               while the ark of God dwells in a tent.

 

For dwells, Saint Jerome uses is placed or posita sit.  Douay-Rheims uses is lodged.

 

verse 16        “…Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;

                               your throne shall stand firm forever.”

 

verse 3b        “Go, do whatever you have in mind

 

Saint Jerome translates this as in corde tuo or in your heart.  Douay-Rheims has in thy heart.

 

verse 4          But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:

 

But is a sign of tension, a tension scholars describe as between Israel as a tribe and Israel as a monarchy.

 

verse 10        “… I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place …

 

The notion of Israel the plant[9] permeates Sacred Scripture as a theme, similar to rock.

 

verse 11c      The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you.

 

King David starts to build a house for the ark of God.  God responds by building a house for David, a house originally understood within the context of the Davidic royal house, but finally understood within the context of the Messiah. 

 

The English use of you for both singular and plural can mislead, especially when the text is presented orally.  You is not meant in the plural sense, including us.

 

verse 3a                  “Go, do whatever you have in mind,

                               for the Lord is with you.”

verse 5b                  Should you build me a house to dwell in?”

verse 8b        It was I who took you from the pasture

verse 9         I have been with you wherever you went,

                               and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.

                     And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.

verse 11b-c             I will give you rest from all your enemies.

                     The LORD also reveals to you

                               that he will establish a house for you.

verse 12        And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,

                               I will raise up your heir after you, spring from your loins

 

Forever is a long time.  With time, the promises made to David do devolve upon the Gentiles.  These promises merit treasuring, the kind of treasuring the Christmas Season does represent, understood correctly.

 

Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

 

Psalm 89 is one of the royal psalms, including especially Psalms 2, 45, 72, 89, 110, and 132.[10]  By the Third Century B.C., when the Psalms were organized into a meaningful collection, Psalm 89, with Psalm 2 and 72 were used to divide the first three books of Psalms.  Psalms 89, 2, and 72 were royal psalms increasingly understood with an eschatological or end-time Messianic awareness.[11]  Psalms 73-89 constitute book three; 90-106 book four.[12]  I would only guess that Psalm 2 is close enough to Psalm 1 book one, to count as a divider.  The Psalms are divided into five books: I, 1-41; II, 42-72; III, 73-89; IV, 90-106; V, 107-150.[13]

 

verse 2          The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;

                               through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.

 

The translators seem to have a problem between goodness and promises.  Saint Jerome used misericordias[14] that I would translate as mercies.  Psalm 88 is the equivalent of Psalm 89 in Douay-Rheims.  Douay-Rheims uses mercies.  Scholars think that the Deuteronomist is legitimating the rule of Solomon by attributing the royal promise to David. 

 

verse 3          For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;

                               in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

 

Kindness is again misericordia.

 

Faithfulness  for Jerome is veritas or truth.  Faith is more a matter of emotion and politics; truth more a matter of reason and truth.  Douay-Rheims uses truth.

 

verse 5          forever will I confirm your posterity

                               and establish your throne for all generations.”

 

For posterity, Jerome uses semen.  Douay-Rheims uses seed, more fitting with the plant image.

 

To generate, generations, the image of a plant changing, growing, even transplanted suits the relationship between God and his people.

 

verse 27b                “`… my God, the Rock, my savior.’

 

verse 29        Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him

 

For maintain the Nova Vulgata uses servabo, I will serve or keep or maintain, in a way that a master never serves a slave.  Douay-Rheims uses keep.

 

Romans 16:25-27

 

Chapter 16 is the concluding chapter of Romans, verses 25-27 are the concluding verses.

 

verse 25c      according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages

 

verse 26b      according to the command of the eternal God

 

Saint Jerome uses aeternum, eternity, for long ages, eternal, and forever.  Douay-Rheims uses eternal ages in verse 25c and eternal in 26b.

 

verse 26c      made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith

 

All nations means the Gentiles.[15]  The covenant ultimately includes all the Faithful, including the dispossessed.

 

Jerome uses cunctis gentibus for all nations.  Cunctis connotes whole rather than every.  Douay-Rheims uses all the Gentiles.

 

verse 27        to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ

                     be glory forever and ever.

 

Luke 1:38

 

Verse 38       Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.

 

Saint Jerome uses serva that the grammarian translates as female slave/servant.[16] Douay-Rheims uses handmaid.  God is the only proper object of any human.  To substitute a human being for God as the object or end of any human constitutes the sin of slavery.  I wonder how racial and other forms of prejudice relate to the sin of slavery.

 

Luke 1:26-38

 

verse 28a      And coming to her, he said

 

That coming or approaching must have been intimidating. 

 

verse 28b                Hail, full of grace!

 

The Hail Mary Pass may have influenced the translators here.  Hail also carried the meaning of rejoice.[17]

 

verse 29b                and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

 

The grammarian offers as a translation, what country made up this sort of greeting.[18]

 

verse 33        “… and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,

                               and of his kingdom there will be no end.

 

Verse 34       can easily be misread by pausing after the word But.

 

verse 34        But Mary said to the angel,

                               “How can this be,

                               since I have no relations with a man?”

 

verse 38b      “May it be done to me according to your word.”

 

Luke has Mary more subtle than Matthew 6:10 in the Our Father, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”[19]

 

Forever includes the promise made to David, reflected in the psalm, explained in Romans and illustrated in the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.  Forever implies a faith that God will make good on his promises.  Forever means that what the faithful give away at Christmas, God will return through time.  Forever means that historians, as arbiters of time, do properly comment in their professional capacities about what forever may mean.  There is a Christmas Messianic message in forever.



[1] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the Psalms (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8146-2599 74.

 

[2] Vincent M.  Smiles, “The Concept of `Zeal’ in Second-Temple Judaism and Paul’s Critique of It in Romans 10:2," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  64, No.  2 (April 2002) 291.

 

[3] Christopher T.  Begg, “2 Kings 20:12-19 as an Element of the Deuteronomistic History," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  48, No.  1 (July 1986) 27.

 

[4] Antti Laato, “Second Samuel 7 and Ancient Near Eastern Royal Ideology," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  59, No.  2 (April 1997) 244-269.

 

[5] Jeffrey S.  Rogers, “Narrative Stock and Deuteronomistic Elaboration in 1 Kings 2," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  50, No.  3 (July 1988) 405.

 

[6] John Kessler, “Sexuality and Politics: The Motif of the Displaced Husband in the Books of Samuel," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  62, No.  3 (July 2000) 409-423.

 

[7] National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Roman Missal Restored by Decree of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican and Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition: Volume I: Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and Saints (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998).

 

[8] The Holy Bible: Translated from the Latin Vulgate with Annotations, References, and an Historical and Chronological Table: The Douay Version of The Old Testament, First published by the English College at Douay, A.D.  1609: The Confraternity Edition of The New Testament: A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version Edited by Catholic Scholars under the Patronage of the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (New York.  P.  J.  Kennedy & Sons, 1950).

 

[9] Bernard F.  Batto, “The Covenant of Peace: A Neglected Ancient Near Eastern Motif," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  49, No.  2 (April 1987) 206.

[10] Adrian M.  Leske, “Context and Meaning of Zechariah 9:9," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  62, No.  4 (October 2000) 665.

 

[11] Sue Gillingham, “From Liturgy to Prophecy: The Use of Psalmody in Second Temple Judaism," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol.  64, No.  3 (July 2002) 477.

 

[12] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the Psalms (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8146-2599 138.

 

[13] Nova Vulgata: Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio: Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II ratione habita Iussu Pauli PP, VI Recognita Auctoritate Joannis Pauli PP, II Promulgata Editio Typica Altera (00120 Citta Del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979, 1986, 1998) ISBN 88-2209-2163-4.

 

[14] Nova Vulgata: Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio: Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II ratione habita Iussu Pauli PP, VI Recognita Auctoritate Joannis Pauli PP, II Promulgata Editio Typica Altera (00120 Citta Del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979, 1986, 1998) ISBN 88-2209-2163-4.

 

[15] See Robert A.  J.  Gagnon, Why the "Weak" at Rome Cannot Be Non-Christian Jews, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1 (January 2000) 66.

 

[16] Max Zerwick, S.J.  and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1996) 172.

 

[17] Max Zerwick, S.J.  and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1996) 171.

 

[18] Max Zerwick, S.J.  and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1996) 171.  Also see Maximilian Zerwick, S.J., English Edition adapted from the Fourth Latin Edition by Joseph Smith, S.J., Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblico—114—Biblical Greek (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1994) 116.

 

[19] Max Zerwick, S.J.  and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament unabridged, 5th, revised edition (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico 1966) 172.