For whom we wait
Tomorrow at Vespers the monastic community begins to sing the “O Antiphons,” ancient chants that mark the final days of the last week of Advent. The “O Antiphons” remind us for whom we wait: the Key of David, the Root of Jesse, Radiant Dawn, and more. When you think of Jesus, for whom do you wait: savior, magic-maker, brother? It is an important question. The way we think of Jesus is the way we think of religion. What is religion to you: a guide to life, a pseudo-supernatural trick, or an entree to the spiritual side of life?December 17:
“Come, O Wisdom from above.” Wisdom is the ability to see the world as God sees it. Try reading the newspaper today through the eyes of a God who was born in a stable, counted to be of no account, hounded by society from one place to another.
December 18: “Come, O Sacred One of Israel.” It’s a shame that we limit the sacred to religious objects or special places. Here we are reminded that the Sacred One is becoming human and, in so doing, breathes sacredness into every human life. Make an inward bow to each person you meet today.
December 19: “Come, O Flower of Jesse’s Stem.” Jesse is the unknown one, the ancestor of David, from whose line would come the messiah. Jesse is the one who began a great work but did not live to see its end. Jesse is the one who was able to believe and to wait. Point: We must plant seeds of truth, beauty, and peace even though we won’t see the flower.
December 20: “Come, O Key of David.” This antiphon is a searing cry for the kind of Christian commitment that opens doors and breaks down barriers between peoples. It calls us to devote ourselves to bringing unity to a divided world. Try to unlock one door that is keeping someone locked out of your heart.
December 21: “Come, O Radiant Dawn.” But dawn will not come for most of the people of the world until we ourselves become the kind of people whose lives bring light to the poorest of the poor wherever we go, in whatever we do.
December 22: “Come, O God of All the Earth.” We wait for the one who will end the anguished waiting for peace by people everywhere. To celebrate Christmas and at the same time to see certain countries or peoples as “enemy” is a contradiction in terms.
December 23: “Come, O Come Emmanuel.” This evening the monastic community sings the church’s long, last wail of desire that, this time, the Christ will finally be born in us. Pray this antiphon today.
—from The Monastery Almanac by Joan Chittister