Sunday Scripture: O Wisdom! O Emmanuel! O Key of David! Come!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
By Sister Betty J. Lillie, S.C.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: Micah 5:1-4a; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45.
The beautiful “O” antiphons that are sung at vespers from Dec. 17-23 remind us that Christmas is near. They recall for us the long period of waiting through salvation history for the coming of the Christ, our Messiah. “O Wisdom, O Adonai, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn, O King of all the Nations, O Emmanuel.” These are wonderful titles for the One who was to come.
For this Sunday of Advent the title used is “O Key of David.” The Messiah would be of the house and family of David, of the tribe of Judah. The key is a symbol of the power to rule, to be king forever in the kingdom of God. Our king is here, and the excitement of celebrating that is working up to the crescendo of “Glory to God in the highest!” Glorious Hosannas are ringing out around the world.
The prophet Micah sets a tone for us (Micah 5:1-4a). His message was that from Bethlehem would come One who is to be ruler in Israel. One whose origin is from old, from ancient days. He shall shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord His God. He shall be great to the ends of the earth.
Later in our readings two mothers come on the scene as central figures in the events. At the time near the birth of John the Baptist to Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary is said to have gone with haste to their house. The term for “haste” is from the Greek and can also be interpreted to mean “very thoughtfully.” Thus the events of Mary’s haste could also have the meaning that Mary went very thoughtfully to visit her relatives.
What may have gone through Mary’s mind when Elizabeth greeted her as “blessed among women,” and mother of the Lord? Even against the background of the Annunciation that would still be an overwhelming idea. Then, follow that up with, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:39-45).
How did Elizabeth know that? Well, yes, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit! What follows in the text, though not in our reading, is the beautiful Magnificat. The evangelist wrote of Mary’s affirmation that He who is mighty had done great things for her. God is with us! He has given the world its Savior.
Our second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews makes the point that when Christ came into the world He was a different kind of Messiah than many expected. He came to do God’s will, which was to move from the sacrifices of preparation in the former observances, to the new order by which we have been sanctified, or ceremonially dedicated through the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:5-10).
The psalmist gives us some wonderful prayers for praising God for all He has done for us. “Stir up thy might and come to save us.” “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!” “ Let thy face shine, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80).
O Wisdom! O Emmanuel! O Key of David! Come!
Sister Better Jane is a member of the faculty at the Athenaeum of Ohio.