Despite his fierce portrayal of the day of judgment, the prophet Zephaniah is best known to Catholics for an exultant passage, 3:14-20. It is twice quoted in our seasonal liturgies, once during the Easter vigil and again for the Third Sunday of Advent. Only a few days ago, for Gaudate Sunday, we heard again these stirring words:
Be glad and exult with all your heart, daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, Zion, do not be discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior,
Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love,
Who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days.
I will remove disaster from among you,
so that no one may recount your disgrace.
At that time I will deal with all who oppress you;
I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts;
I will give them praise and renown
in every land where they were shame.
At that time I will bring you home,
and at that time I will gather you;
For I will give you renown and praise,
among all the peoples of the earth,
When I bring about your restoration
before your very eyes, says the LORD.