Thoughts from the Early Church
Commentary by Bernard of Clairvaux
Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
“The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” These are the angel’s words to the Virgin concerning the son he had announced, promising that he should succeed to the kingdom of David.
No one questions the origin of our Lord Jesus from the line of David, but how, I wonder, will God give him the throne of David, since Jesus never reigned in Jerusalem and would not consent to the crowds who would make him king—he even protested before Pilate that his kingdom was not of this world.
Besides, what importance could be attached to his sitting on the throne of David his father when he was already seated on the cherubim, on a throne high and lifted up, as the prophet says?
But we know that another Jerusalem is meant, different from the present one where David once reigned, a city much nobler and richer. God will indeed give him the throne of his father David when he has established him as king over Zion, his holy mountain—he will give him not a symbolic but a real throne, not a temporal but an eternal throne, not an earthly but a heavenly throne.
“He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Again, if we take this in a temporal sense, how is it that Christ will reign for ever over something not eternal in itself?
We must look, then, for a house of Jacob that is eternal, over which he will reign for ever.
Are there any among us who, in accordance with the meaning of the name Jacob (supplanter), will supplant the devil in their hearts, struggle against their vices and desires, so that sin will not reign in their bodies, but Jesus only, through grace now, through glory for all eternity?
Blessed are they in whom Jesus will reign for ever, for they shall reign with him, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Oh how glorious is that kingdom where kings are gathered together to give united praise and honor to the King of kings and Lord of lords, in the contemplation of whose splendor thejust shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Oh that Jesus, out of the love he has for his people, may remember me, a sinner, when he comes into his kingdom! Oh that he may deign to come and save me on the day when he delivers up his kingdom to his God and Father, so that I may see the joy of his chosen ones and rejoice in the gladness of his people. Then I too shall be able to praise him together with his inheritance.
And now, Lord Jesus, come and remove the stumbling-blocks within the kingdom which is my soul, so that you who ought to may reign in it.
Greed comes along and claims its throne in me; arrogance would dominate me; pride would be my king. Comfort and pleasure say: We shall reign! Ambition, detraction, envy, anger fight within me for supremacy, and seem to have me entirely in their power.
But I resist insofar as I can; I struggle against them insofar as I receive your help. I protest that Jesus is my Lord. I keep myself for him since I acknowledge his rights over me. To me he is God, to me he is the Lord, and I declare: I will have no king but the Lord Jesus!
Come then, Lord, rout them by your power and you will reign in me, for you are my king and my God, who grant victories to Jacob.
(Hom. IV super Missus est, 1-2: PL 183, 78-80)
Bernard (1090-1153) entered the monastery of Citeaux with thirty companions in 1112. He received his monastic training under the abbot, Saint Stephen Harding, who sent him in 1115 to make a foundation at Clairvaux in France.
Soon one of the most infuential religious forces in Europe, Bernard was instrumental in founding the Knights Templar and in the election of Pope Innocent I in 1130. He was a strenuous opponent of writers such as Abelard, Gilbert de la Porrée, and Henry of Lausanne.
Above all, Bernard was a monk; his sermons and theological writings show an intimate knowledge of scripture, a fine eloquence, and an extraordinarily sublime mysticism.
**From Saint Louis University