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How to recognise the Messiah

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How to recognise the Messiah

The psalms can seem at times more blood-thirsty than compassionate; the yearning of the psalmist is for vengence rather than forgiveness.  Today’s psalm, however, could hide seamlessly amongst many of writings of the prophets that foretold the Messiah.

The king of psalm 71 is no power-hungry warrior.  The king is to be just in judgement, a bringer of peace, a defender of the poor.  He will save the children of the needy, pity the weak and save the poor from oppression.  With our Christ-centric vision, it is easy to recognise the Messiah here, as he endures ‘like the sun and the moon,’ as no mortal could.  ‘Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.’

Yes, David was great and yes, Solomon was wise but the king of whom this psalm speaks is the King – ‘the One who is to come’.  Put this psalm together with just a selection of the prophesies we’ve heard in the liturgy throughout Advent and it’s hard to understand how anyone failed to recognise Jesus as the Messiah when, at last, he came. And yet, and yet…   Do we reconise Christ in those around us?  It’s all too easy to form a mental picture and seek that, rather than recognising what we see.

Those who failed to recognise the Messiah were yearning for a king who featured items from their own wish-list of  ‘Messiah must-haves’. Today’s feast of the Epiphany reminds us that Jesus turns up in the most unusual places.  The Magi managed to track him down from the far East without being steeped in the psalms and prophets.  Their vision was keen enough to see beyond the humble dwelling to the Word was made flesh before their eyes.

The example of the Magi shows us  that we need to cast aside our preconceptions in order to recognise Jesus where he is to be found… and upon finding him, to do him homage, especially when we find him among the poor, the needy and the weak.

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