Wednesday, 4 January 2012

David, King and Prophet


Icon, David, King and Prophet, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2011 (portion of Psalm 100 shown)
Who is King David?  Almost any person who has been brought up in the Christian community can answer that question even if all they can say is "he wrote all the Psalms". 

So many of us have just finished celebrating Christmas (other Christians are just getting ready to celebrate Christmas) and if we attended Mass or church services during that time, we heard the name of David in the Scripture readings for this holy season.  In St. Matthew's Gospel we read that the angel of God spoke to Joseph in a dream and said:  "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife..." [Matt. 1:20].  The angel is referring here to King David, not Joseph's natural father.  Then in Luke's Gospel, we read so many references to King David such as these:  "All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went ... to the City of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David." [Luke 2:4-5] and "... and the angel said 'to you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'"  [Luke 2:11].

We are told that both Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and Mary, his mother, were of the house and family of David.  Why was this so important?  Because of the prophecies found in the Old Testament which indicate that the coming Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David.  To this very day, our Jewish brothers and sisters pray daily for the coming of the "Messiah, son of David." For while we Christians accept Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, they are still waiting for the Messiah to come. In both cases, however, the Messiah is to be a descendant of the house of David.

We really know so very little about David except what we find in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. The Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles are the only sources of information on David, although the Tel Dan stele records the existence in the mid-9th century of a Judean royal dynasty called the "House of David". The Tel Dan Stele is a stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993/94 during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. Its author was a king of Damascus, Hazael or one of his sons, and it contains an Aramaic inscription commemorating victories over local ancient peoples including "Israel" and the "House of David." His life is conventionally dated to c. 1040–970 BC, his reign over Judah c. 1010–1003 BC, and his reign over the United Kingdom of Israel c. 1003–970 BC.

Then, of course, there are the Psalms.  These are beautiful songs of praise, worship, questioning, struggling and pleas for mercy.  There are 150 Psalms all of which are said to have been composed by King David who was also a musician.  Whether David actually composed all of them is questionable, perhaps, but it is quite possible that he was the one who brought them all together in one "book".  Probably the best known of these songs is Psalm 23.  This shepherd's song could easily have been written by David who grew up tending his father, Jesse's, sheep.  Then there is Psalm 51 -- the prayer for forgiveness and is thought to have been written by David as he finally faced the truth about the terrible sin he had committed because of his lust for another man's wife.  I would also mention Psalm 139 -- if you have never read it, please do so and let the truth of these words sink deeply into your soul.

Since the earliest days of the Church, priests and laity alike have prayed all 150 Psalms over and over throughout the year.  This is still done by every priest and religious (plus many lay people) to this very day.  In fact, in the early Church, since there was as yet no New Testament, the Psalms were the source of much of the teaching ministry.  Jesus quoted numerous times from the Psalms in his teaching and preaching as did St. Paul and the other apostles. 

King David, pray for us that we, too, may always be able to say:  "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want."


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I haven't left myself much room for anything else but there is one thing I do want to tell you about. 

Some weeks ago, I heard from a member of the Knights of Columbus in Downers Grove, Illinois.  He wrote: "We are currently running an article on St. Maximillian Kolbe, and I was wondering if we might use the image you created for St. Maximillian Parish in West Chester, PA. The image would appear once in our newsletter with the article. We would give you credit, of course. The newsletter is distributed free of charge to our membership of about 90 Knights." I, of course, said "yes" and recently I received a copy of the e-bulletin published by this group of Knights. I thought you might be interested in seeing how the image was used. 

St. Maximilian: a true hero   Often times in Catholicism, we hear the words, “We are all called to be saints.” What does that mean? Does it mean we do charity or good works? Most of the time it means we have to suffer. If you look at the lives of the saints, any of them, you will see that they have suffered, a lot. They suffer for a higher purpose than even they, or anyone, else can imagine. So, what kind of a person takes on this suffering, to put God‟s will ahead of one‟s self, ahead of one‟s own dreams and ambitions? What kind of person would suffer death so that another might live? Who would put Christ ahead of everything else?

Original art work by Sarah “Sallie” Thayer. Published with
permission of the artist.  See salliesart.blogspot.com
 One such person was Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Conventual Franciscan Friar who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the Nazi Concentration Camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War II. He died on August 14, 1941. After three prisoners escaped, ten men were selected to die of starvation as a punishing example to deter more escape attempts. One of the men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, when selected, “My poor wife, my poor children, what will they do?” So moved was St. Maximilian that he immediately volunteered to take his place in an isolated, underground bunker. For the next few weeks he quietly led the men in Mass and prayers until they all died of starvation, except for St. Maximilian himself. Since the guards wanted the bunker emptied, they gave him a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Some who were present at his death said that he raised his left arm and calmly waited for the injection. The man whose life he saved, Franciszek Gajowniczek, lived until March 13, 1995. He continued to spread the word of the sacrifice of St. Maximilian throughout his life so that all would know of the faith and charity of this great saint.

St. Maximilian 's life was strongly influenced by a childhood vision of the Virgin Mary which he later described: “That night, I asked the Mother of God what was to become of me. Then she came to me holding two crowns, one white, the other red. She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity, and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both.” Early on he was inspired to organize the Militia Immaculata, or the Army of Mary, to aid in the conversion of sinners and to resist enemies of the Catholic Church. Before he was incarcerated in Auschwitz, he sheltered many Polish refugees from Nazi persecution in his friary, including 2,000 Jews. St. Maximilian Kolbe was canonized a martyr by Pope John Paul II on October 10, 1982, with Franciszek Gajowniczek in attendance. St. Maximilian is a much loved saint of our family: Marikay and I have called upon him to intercede for our needs often. I hope you read more about this brave man of faith and ask him to intercede for your needs also.
Vivat Jesus, Norris Freedman
* Historical info was taken from Wikipedia; Catholic.org/saints  [From the Grand Knight: VOLUME 3, ISSUE 4]

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SUKI AND SALLIE


Have you ever seen a sleepier cat?
Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Poor Suki was frequently disturbed today as there was much coming and going from my apartment during the morning and early afternoon.  She was not able to get her accustomed 16 hours of uninterrupted sleep (well, maybe not that many hours).  Anyway, by the time 3 p.m. rolled around, Suki was in her bed at the top of her cat tree sleeping away.  Here she is shown as she awakens briefly and unhappily because I made a noise that disturbed her!  Pardon me, your royal highness!

At any rate, she did not stay awake for long and is now happily sleeping once again.  When she sleeps this deeply it is funny to see that her tail becomes very active at times.  I know she is dreaming and I wonder what she is seeing in her dreams, especially when her tail is really twitching back and forth rapidly.  She is probably dreaming that she has caught one of those pigeons who torment her so just outside the window sill!

Sallie, on the other hand, took a major nap this afternoon.  I don't know what was going on with me but suddenly I was just totally overcome by tiredness.  Thanks be to God, I had the good sense just to go to bed.  I slept 3 1/2 hours and might have even slept longer had the phone not started ringing.  Oh, well, I do feel much better and thankful that for once I had the good sense to follow my body's needs instead of my own desires to stay up and work on a new drawing.

But now it is already time to get ready to go back to sleep again and I am looking forward to it!  Maybe I am catching the sleep bug from my cat! 

Otherwise, I am doing well.  All my X-rays, by the way, showed nothing serious.  I just got a big bump on my head with bruising on my face and it will take another 6 to 8 weeks for everything to get back to as close to normal as possible!  Now, we must all pray that Sallie does not fall anymore.  That is my New Year's resolution as I told you in the previous posting.  I have also told my guardian angel:  anymore falls and I am going to politely request that this guardian angel goes back for some re-training and that meanwhile I get a young and enthusiastic replacement!  Well, OK, I didn't really say that, but I thought it.

Now, may God bless us and protect us and may the peace of God surround us all.




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