The theme of kingship looms large in the story of our salvation. The transition from the people of Israel living as 12 tribes to their anointing of a king involved twists and turns. They were influenced by what they saw around them and began to long for a king:
“We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” 1 Sam 8
The King had a huge responsibility in terms of faithfulness to the Torah and the well-being of his people. The writers of the history of Israel would evaluate each king and many were found wanting. Our first reading from Jeremiah today speaks from the perspective of the Exile where the harsh reality of the failure of many kings must be faced. Into this deep despair Jeremiah speaks a word of hope as he promises a new king:
See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks –
when I will raise a virtuous Branch for David,
who will reign as true king and be wise,
practising honesty and integrity in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel dwell in confidence.
And this is the name he will be called:
This new king will embody the love and faithfulness of God and ensure the well-being of his subjects. I am always struck by the name ‘The-Lord-our-integrity’. So many of our day to day experiences can lead to a sense of fragmentation. I believe that the human heart is always searching for wholeness and integrity. We were made for this.
The Gospel account of the angel appearing to Joseph links in several ways with the text from Jeremiah. The angel gives Joseph a message of hope and by quoting Isaiah reminds us of the whole theology of promise and blessing. Joseph stands here as a man of integrity. He is a loving and faithful keeper of Torah. It’s through Joseph’s everyday observance that Jesus will be shaped and nurtured too.
We may not always stop to think about our day to day responsibilities and how they shape those around us. We are perhaps more likely to notice how others fulfill their roles.
Take some time today to pray for someone whose leadership role has shaped and nurtured you.