Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father. Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, like a lioness—who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
Today’s reading from Genesis may seem confusing until paired with today’s Gospel—the genealogy of Jesus, which tracks his lineage back to King David. Here, Jacob foretells the mighty triumphs of David: you have given me the necks of my enemies (Psalm 18:40). He then states that the king’s scepter shall remain within Judah. We know this to be true as our Savior’s birth came to pass in the province of Judea.
So much of the Old Testament points to Jesus as King and to his fulfillment of God’s promise, and yet throughout history so many failed to make the connection. How many of us are equally surrounded by the glory of God, and yet sometimes fail to notice it? Even as we celebrate the birth of our Messiah, we are too often distracted by competing signals to fully focus on the one who holds the scepter and deserves our homage. Jacob spoke of a saving King as far back as Genesis. Let’s not miss him today!
(In the days to come, we will print the traditional “O” Antiphon prayers.)
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!