The responsorial psalm for this week comes from Psalm 122, a hymn of joy and praise for the opportunity to go to the Temple in Jerusalem.
I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the LORD.” And now we have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Glorious temples were not only evidence of the wealth and importance of the rulers who commissioned them, they were the dwelling place of God on earth.
For this reason, an opportunity to go to Jerusalem and enter the courts of the Temple was considered a great honor and a religious experience.
Jerusalem, built as a city with compact unity.
The city of Jerusalem was itself something to behold. It was built on Mount Zion, a hill that towered above much of the neighboring terrain. This not only gave it a vantage point from which to survey the surrounding territory (an important asset in the case of possible attack), its height enabled it to be seen from a distance, creating the impression of watchfulness and protection.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD. According to the decree for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD. In it are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.
Jerusalem was not only the seat of royal political power, it was also the religious center of a tribal confederacy that was based on a common allegiance to God. In this capacity, it also became the center of the administration of justice.
The monarchy exercised significant influence in this arena but was still bound to the principles embedded in the religious tradition.
The strong fortifications of the city and the presence of the temple gave Jerusalem the reputation of being invincible. When one went to Jerusalem, one was visiting the center of every facet of Jewish life. This was truly the chosen city.
It’s no wonder Jerusalem became a symbol of the reign of God.