“May Jesus Christ fulfill his saving task by saving us from our sins; may he discharge his priestly office by reconciling us to God the Father, and may he exercise his royal power by admitting us to his Father’s kingdom”

Matthew the evangelist gives us an account of the way in which the eternal Son of God, begotten before the world began, appeared in time as the Son of Man. His description is brief but absolutely true. By tracing the ancestry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the male line he brings it down from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Mary. It is indeed fitting in every respect that when God decided to become incarnate for the sake of the whole human race none but a virgin should be his mother, and that, since a virgin was privileged to bring him into the world, she should bear no other son but the son who is God.

Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel, a name which means God-with-us. The name God-with-us, given to our Savior by the prophet, signifies that two natures are united in his one person. Before time began he was God, born of the Father, but in the fullness of time he became Emmanuel, God-with-us, in the womb of his mother, because when the Word was made flesh and lived among us he deigned to unite our frail human nature to his own person. Without ceasing to be what he had always been, he began in a wonderful fashion to be what we are, assuming our nature in such a way that he did not lose his own.

And so Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, the child of her own flesh and blood. She brought forth the God who had been born of God before creation began, and who, in his created humanity, rightfully surpassed the whole of creation. And Scripture says she named him Jesus. Jesus, then, is the name of the Virgin’s son. According to the angel’s explanation, it means one who is to save his people from their sins. In doing so he will also deliver them from any defilement of mind and body they have incurred on account of their sins.

But the title “Christ” implies a priestly or royal dignity. In the Old Testament it was given to both priests and kings on account of the anointing with chrism or holy oil which they received. They prefigured the true king and high priest who, on coming into this world, was anointed with the oil of gladness above all his peers. From this anointing or chrismation he received the name of Christ, and those who share in the anointing which he himself bestows, that is the grace of the Spirit, are called Christians.

May Jesus Christ fulfill his saving task by saving us from our sins; may he discharge his priestly office by reconciling us to God the Father, and may he exercise his royal power by admitting us to his Father’s kingdom, for he is our Lord and God, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

The Venerable Bede

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4 Responses to “May Jesus Christ fulfill his saving task by saving us from our sins; may he discharge his priestly office by reconciling us to God the Father, and may he exercise his royal power by admitting us to his Father’s kingdom”

  1. DLW says:

    Father, I am intrigued by this beautiful icon, but have no idea what it is supposed to be. Is there any information you can give us about it? Thanks!

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      It’s the Jesse Tree from the Lambeth Psalter (12th century).

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      DLW, I found on the web the following interpretation of this illumination of the Jesse Tree:

      The Lambeth Bible (Lambeth Palace, London, MS 3 f. 98 ) was made about 1140 or so at Canterbury, presumably Christ Church . The central image of whole page Jesse Tree is the Virgin Mary in blue gown and red cape. From her head spring tendrils that encircle Jesus’ upper torso, and the seven doves that represent the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The upper two corner roundels are apostles, most probably St. Paul on the left and St. Peter on the right. The lower two corner roundels are Old Testament kings (perhaps David and Solomon), all pointing toward Mary and Jesus Christ. The kings of Israel are not found in the six roundels above Jesse and beside Mary. The upper left roundel holds two apostles supporting a crowned female figure of the Church Triumphant. I assume that one is St. Peter though he does not carry a key, and the other probably St. Paul with his long beard and balding head. The upper right roundel has Moses (with horns) and another Old Testament prophet or perhaps a New Testament apostle, since he has a golden halo, supporting the blindfolded female figure of Synagogue. A hand in the right corner roundel is removing the blindfold from Synagogue. This image is often used for the Hand of God. In the two middle roundels are Mercy and Truth (misericordia et veritas) meeting together (left), and Righteousness/Justice and Peace (iustitia et pax) kissing (right). (Psalm 84.10 Vulgate, Psalm 85.10 KJV). The two bottom roundels are four prophets pointing to the Savior. The prophet on the left with the inscribed scroll is Isaiah. Jesse is asleep across the bottom though he does hold the tree. (See Charles F. Dodwell. The Canterbury School of Illumination: 1066-1200. (1954) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) http://inthisfalsworld.blogspot.com/2015/08/seven-doves-part-iii-a.html

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