Monday, December 20, 2010

The O Antiphon: December 20 - O Key of David

“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.”

One of the highlights of our communal prayer at the Marianist Communities was the Advent season and the singing of the O Antiphons. The liturgy of the hours was simple yet powerful in its beauty, always focused deeply on the psalms and silence and intercessory prayer. The O Antiphons, which we sing during Advent embody all three characteristics: like the psalms, they give us a language to speak to God and with one another, at their heart the antiphons are profoundly intercessory: Come! Lord, come soon!

My favorite verse is always the fourth one, O Clavis David, O Key of David! (for December 20). Rather than being frightened by this image of Christ as the holder of the keys, the one who opens and no one can close and who closes and no one can open, the image of Christ as Key of David instills a far-reaching confidence. Our faith is carried on this promise of the One who holds all things in his life. I am reminded of the verse from John 3:27, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.” There is nothing that we have or could invent that might make Christ present but Christ comes and gives us everything through the Father and the Spirit… not only faith and all spiritual goods but all material goods as well. This image of Christ evokes adoration. We are totally dependent on this One who rules over all. And what a blessed dependence! For this One is described, not as the condemner or exterminator, but as the one who frees the prisoners, who calls out to the dead and leads them to life, who opens the eyes of the blind bringing them from darkness to light, whose heart is full of compassion and mercy, who is the Gospel coming to us in the forgiveness of sins and the restoration of community in God.

Come! Lord, come soon!