The Hail Mary greeting (Lk 1:28-1:28)

“The angel Gabriel

Came to her.

He said.

‘Hail!

Full of grace!

The Lord is

With you!’”

 

καὶ εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν εἶπεν Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.

 

Luke said that this angel Gabriel came to Mary (καὶ εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν).  He greeted her with the traditional Greek salutation “Hail” or “I am happy to see you” (Χαῖρε).  She was the favored one or the one full of grace (κεχαριτωμένη).  The “Lord is with you” (ὁ Κύριος μετὰ σοῦ) is an ancient Hebrew greeting found in Ruth, chapter 2:4, 2 Chronicles, chapter 15:2, Numbers, chapter 14:42, and 1 Samuel, chapter 17:37.  The impact of this angelic greeting has had a profound effect on Christian prayer life.  The famous simple popular prayer to Mary is often called the “Hail Mary” based on this passage.  “Hail Mary!  Full of grace!  the Lord is with you!”  This medieval 11th century Marian Latin prayer “Ave Maria” is the Latin translation of these Greek verses as found in the Latin Vulgate.  The second line was “full of grace” or “gratia plena” and the third line was “Dominus vobiscum,” or the “Lord be with you.”  This later phrase “Dominus vobiscum,” was and is also part of the ancient and contemporary Roman Catholic Eucharistic Mass service, as a priestly greeting to the congregation.  These verses serve as the foundational biblical statements for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, not Jesus.

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The Christian God

The Christian tradition believes in a monotheistic personal God who has had a unique presence in Jesus Christ.  We truly care to live with the mysterious life of God who has an impact on our lives.  The God of Israel was Yahweh, whom the Christians consider God the Father.  There is also the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Yahweh, that is present in our lives.  Jesus is the Son of God, the Father.

Question about uncleanness (Hag 2:13-2:13)

“Then Haggai said.

‘If one who is unclean,

By contact with a dead body,

Touches any of these,

Does it become unclean?’

The priests answered.

‘Yes,

It becomes unclean.’”

Now Haggai asked the opposite question.  How does anyone become unclean, the opposite of holy?  Normally, people became unclean by touching a dead body.  What would happen if this unclean person, who had touched the dead body, touched the bread, the stew, the wine, the oil, or any other kind of food.  Would these food products become unclean?  The answer of the priests was the opposite of the question about holiness, yes.  Instead of no impact, the uncleanness would spread, so that all these things would be unclean, like a contagion.

The defeat of the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco (Jer 46:2-46:2)

“Concerning Egypt.

The army of Pharaoh Neco,

King of Egypt,

Was by the Euphrates River,

At Carchemish.

King Nebuchadnezzar,

Of Babylon

Defeated him

In the fourth year

Of King Jehoiakim,

The son of Josiah,

King of Judah.”

King Neco II ruled Egypt from 610-595 BCE. He had a huge impact on Judah because he had killed King Josiah (640-609 BCE) in 609 BCE at Megiddo. King Josiah of Judah was on the Babylonian side of this war against the Egyptians. King Neco then replaced the son of King Josiah, King Jehoahaz or King Shallum of Judah, with his brother King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE). King Jehoahaz (609 BCE) was brought back to Egypt, while his brother ruled in Judah. The incident mentioned here took place 4 years later in 605 BCE, in the 4th year of the reign of King Jehoiakim at Carchemish, on the Euphrates River. This is where King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated King Neco of Egypt.

The importance of good relationships (Isa 58:6-58:9)

“Is not this the fast that I choose?

You must loose the bonds of injustice!

You must undo the thongs of the yoke!

Let the oppressed go free!

Break every yoke!

Is it not to share your bread

With the hungry?

Is it not to bring the homeless poor

Into your house?

When you see the naked,

Cover them!

Do not hide yourself

From your own relatives!

Then your light shall break forth

Like the dawn.

Your healing shall spring up quickly.

Your vindicator shall go before you.

The glory of Yahweh

Shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call.

Now Yahweh will answer.

You shall cry for help.

He will say.

‘Here I am.’”

Third Isaiah has Yahweh explain what kind of relationships that they should have while fasting. They should try to do away with injustice. They should try to lift the yoke of those who are oppressed. They should share their bread with the hungry. They should provide housing for the homeless. They should clothe the naked. In some sense, this sounds like the later Christian beatitudes in the gospel stories. They should take care of their relatives or next of kin. If they did all these things, then their light would be like the dawning of a new day. They would heal quickly. Their vindicator would lead them, while the glory of God would be behind them. If they called him, obviously the Lord, Yahweh, would answer their cry for help with a simple saying that he was here.  How you treat others has an impact on how you treat God.

The response of Isaiah (Isa 37:5-37:6)

“When the servants of King Hezekiah

Came to Isaiah,

Isaiah said to them.

‘Say to your master.

Thus says Yahweh.

Do not be afraid

Because of the words

That you have heard,

With which the servants

Of the king of Assyria

Have reviled me.

I myself will put a spirit in him,

So that he shall hear a rumor.

He will then return to his own land.

I will cause him to fall

By the sword in his own land.’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. Here we have the first royal intervention of the great prophet Isaiah, whose influence had a great impact on future Israelite life. The response of Isaiah is quite remarkable. Because the servants of the king of Assyria had reviled Yahweh, he was going to retaliate against the Assyrian king. This oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, said that Yahweh would spread a rumor that would make the Assyrian army return to its own land, where the king would be killed at home in Assyria. The fact is that King Sennacherib of Assyria did return home without capturing Jerusalem. He was then killed by his sons in Assyria.

King Josiah (Sir 49:1-49:3)

“The memory of King Josiah is

Like a blending of incense.

This was prepared

By the skilful art of the perfumer.

His memory is

As sweet as honey

To every mouth.

His memory is

Like music

At a banquet of wine.

He did what was right

By reforming the people.

He removed the wicked abominations.

He kept his heart

On the Lord.

In lawless times,

He made

Godliness prevail.”

Now Sirach takes on the memory of the long reign of Judah King Josiah (640-609 BCE) as found in 2 Kings, chapters 22-23, and 2 Chronicles, chapters 34-35. He was a substantial king for over 30 years, so his impact was great. His memory was like the beautiful aroma of incense and sweeter than honey. His memory was like music at a wine banquet because he did what was right. He refurnished the Jerusalem Temple by collecting money to repair it. During this remodeling, they discovered the book of the law, probably Deuteronomy. After reading this book, he called for a religious reform in Judah, apparently reinstating monotheism. He then set out to destroy all the other religious shrines or wicked abominations that were not in Jerusalem. He kept his heart fixed on the Lord. He changed the lawless times into the times of godliness. What a great king!