Day 204: Zephaniah's Warnings

Isaiah 28:1-29 Turning his attention to his own people, the Lord in this prophecy passed judgment on Ephraim (Israel) for its excessive sense of self-sufficiency. He then accused Jerusalem for its false prophets, deceiving priests, and poor leaders who give flattering counsel for their own benefit. The people must repent quickly lest punishment rain down upon them.

Ch 29:1-14 Using the name Ariel, which refers to a part of the Temple’s altar of sacrifice, Isaiah lamented the blindness of the people of Jerusalem, who engaged in external religious practices with hearts and minds far from God and his mandates. Any kind of prayer or worship requires a sincere disposition to seek God’s will and truly love him with deeds. 

Ch 29:11 This is sealed: A seal was an impression made on wax to keep a scroll or other document closed. The distinctive seal served as notice that the contents of the document were private and that it was from a legitimate authority. In other uses, it could indicate ownership. Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders give the recipient a permanent and indelible seal, or mark, to indicate a grace or power bestowed by the Holy Spirit. We also speak of a “seal of confession” whereby the priest or bishop is prohibited from divulging the contents of the penitent’s confession. (CCC 698, 1121, 1295, 2490-2491, 2511)

Ch 29:13 Honor me with their lips...far from me: Metaphorically, the “heart” is the very depth of one’s being. The sense here is one of hypocrisy, or perhaps lack of spiritual resolve; the people pray, but they lack a sincere desire to identify themselves with God’s will. (CCC 368)

Ch 29:15-24 Those who are foolish run from God or, worse, deny his existence and his providential intervention in all human affairs. The Lord will come again in all his glory and majesty for his Final Judgment of all people. Healing of infirmities is among the signs of the presence of the Messiah. As always, the poor are the primary beneficiaries of the Lord’s benevolence. (CCC 238, 716)

The Book of Zephaniah

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(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Zephaniah 1-3 Writing from Jerusalem in the mid seventh century BC, Zephaniah not only referred to God’s justice against Israel’s enemies but also to the Final Judgment, the “day of the Lord.” This phrase is not identical to the end of the world as taught in Catholic doctrine but rather contributed to the formulation of that truth. (CCC 677, 1040)

Ch 1:2-18 God’s wrath would not spare Judah, whose people sinned grievously. Rather, God’s punishment was inevitable, leaving Judah riddled with destruction.

Ch 1:14-18 These verses in their Latin translation form the basis of the Dies Irae, a poem traditionally sung as a Sequence in Masses for the Dead. It is sung in the Office for the Dead in the Liturgy of the Hours. 

Ch 2:1-15 The role of the prophet was to deliver God’s messages regarding the dire consequences of sin and to encourage sinners to repent before it was too late. This chapter begins with a call to conversion and then enumerates what sinful nations will face.

Ch 2:3 You humble of the land: Sometimes translated as “people of the poor,” this phrase refers to the remnant of Israel who remained faithful and hopeful as they awaited the restoration of Israel through the coming of the Messiah. These faithful enjoyed the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they prepared themselves for the coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the New and eternal Covenant. (CCC 64, 711, 716)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we thank you for your Word. We thank you for continuing to speak to us and continuing to call us to be yours. We know that you’re present in all things and that your judgment on the world and your judgment on our lives, our actions is good, is true, is fair, is just. Because you are good, and you are true, and you are fair, and you are just. Lord, you know the secrets of our hearts. You know our weaknesses. You know our strengths. You know the wounds that we carry, that no one else knows. And because of that, you can judge us rightly and you love us. Therefore, you want the best for us. God, I ask that you please use this day. Use what happens in our lives today, whether they be positive things or negative things. Whether they be joyous things or sufferings. Use the moments of this day, the interactions of this day, to call us back to you. Let the joys remind us of your goodness. Let our sufferings remind us of our need for you. Let every moment be a reminder of how much you love us and how much we are yours, how deeply we belong to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”