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The Vindication of the Just

{ Tags: \ Dec9 }

Vindication. To be vindicated. These are verbs that characterize the Day of the Lord. For the Day of the Lord is the moment when those who have decided to be what the Lord wants them to be will be proven right in their decision, while those who considered themselves “practical” and “wise” in laughing at and criciticizing the former, will be proven wrong and will be receiving their comeuppance.

“…but wisdom will be vindicated by her deeds.” This is in Matthew 11:19, within a context formed by Jesus’ statement on the fickleness of a generation that won’t accept his nor John the Baptist’s proclamation. Some old manuscripts read “will be vindicated in her children”; but this is an obvious harmonization with Luke 7:35. The vindication of Wisdom in her deeds/works is in reference to the wisdom of those who allow themselves to be instructed by him who says: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29). From their works (cf. Matthew 7:24), the fruits that they bear, shall they be vindicated (cf. Matthew 21:41; see also Matthew 7:17-19, 13:8.23)

This section of Matthew’s gospel is paired with Isaiah 48:17-19 for Friday of the Second Week of Advent. Isaiah 48-17-19 forms part of a discourse wherein Yahweh admonishes the Jewish exiles to hold onto his words and hope for the new and wonderful things that he is about to perform.

I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence

Within the context of the liturgy, this selection is an invitation to allow oneself to be led by God’s wisdom — for this is what his commandments mean — and not waver from it. Once more the word “vindication” appears in this passage in a balanced parallelism where it is in a one-to-one relationship with “prosperity.” The present destitution of the exiles will become “prosperity” similar to the prosperity of Jacob when he became wealthy in the land of his exile. And that will be their vindication.

The responsorial psalm for the Mass of the same day — Psalm 1 — underscores the lot of the just, those whose pleasant commitment is to meditate on the Lord’s words day and night.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

The response — Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life — is a Christmas theme and points us to the light that enlightens every man who is born (cf. Jn. 1:4.9 and 8:12)

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