It is the week before Christmas, midst the visions of sugar plums dancing, and mice not stirring, is the final push of Christmas preparations—going over lists, dusting and vacuuming, and asking oneself, ‘where did I stash that’.
Advent invites us to sit and breathe. The fourth candle is lit.
Yesterday (Dec 17) the first chapter of Matthew was proclaimed at the Liturgy which traces the genealogy of Jesus back to Abraham. Matthew’s intent with the list of names (besides boy name ideas for parents, only four women are named) is to remind us God is faithful to his promise to send a savior.
To help prepare us for our annual celebration of the birth of Jesus, we are given the “O Antiphons”. The O-Antiphons have been cherished by Christians since at least the eighth century, and are found in the lyrics of “O Come, O come, Emmanuel”. The antiphons use 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. These final days of Advent are like the expectancy of a mother as the child kicks in her womb.
December 17-O Wisdom. Jesus is God’s wisdom and in him all things are made one.
December 18-O Lord of Might. Jesus saves us from sin and helps us live the commandments.
December 19-O Flower of Jesse’s root. Jesus is like a flower growing in the winter.
December 20-O Key of David. Jesus unlocks the gates of heaven and the riches of God’s graces and love.
December 21-O Dayspring. Jesus is the light of the world and God’s love shines on each of us.
December 22-O Keystone. A keystone is the stone at the very top of an arch. Jesus brings people together and desires to keep us from falling.
December 23 O Emmanuel. Jesus, God is with us in our human lives.
We each ask ourselves: how do I hear God’s word and carry it out? What, if anything is holding me back responding to God’s word in my life? What might be causing my fear, my pride, my false humility --- what others are thinking about me, the sacrifice that is being asked of me, my self reliance?
May these final days of preparation before Christmas remind you of Jesus’ birth and the great joy it brings to all the world.