As we move now into the final days of preparing to remember the first coming of Jesus while continuing to enjoy the mystery of God-with-us now, I’d like to invite you to join me in reflecting on the “O Antiphons” in light of our current times. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops describes these texts this way: “They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative “Come!” embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.”[i]
December 17 O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
In these times where denying science, refuting undeniable evidence, and embracing lies as truth, the plea for the Lord to come to teach us the path of knowledge rings out from the depth of my weary mind and soul. Shine the light of Wisdom so that we see again the pathway to knowledge and understanding. We’ve lost our way. We’re weary of the uncertainty. We need You to save us and show us the way. Come, Lord Jesus.
December 18 O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with Your mighty power!
In these times where some of our national and ecclesial leaders have led us astray, when cynicism about leaders in general abounds, when the practices of servant leadership are overshadowed by authoritarian acts boldly proclaimed to benefit those who lead, the plea for the Lord to come and rescue us with His mighty power resounds. Bring the servant heart to all leaders, for the people are wandering. We need You to come and show them the way, so they can lead us. Come, Lord Jesus.
December 19 O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all His people: come to save us without delay!
In these times of polarization, division, and enmity, when we’ve lost our sense of humanity and are deaf to the call to love, we hear the cry for the Lord to come and remind us that God loves all people, and so therefore must we, as God’s children. Come to save us without delay, before our divisions completely destroy the bonds of humankind and so keep us from following Jesus’ command to love one another. Come, Lord Jesus.
Writing these has shown me that these prayers are timeless and timely. Check next week for the O Antiphons for each day leading to the eve of the Christmas celebration. Until then, let us pray!