Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Friday, December 23, 2005

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

When Israel was being led from Egypt through the desert, God was with them in a pilar of fire and smoke that showed the way. God also was present in the tent of meeting in the Holy of Holies. This is where he spoke with Moses. As time passed, David wished to build God a magnificent Temple, a house for God. We read in the scriptures that God protested, not because he was too awesome to be confined to the grandeur of a Temple, but because he wished to pitch his tent with us, he wanted to be with and among his people. Isaiah prophetically reiterates this when he says, "the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."

Emmanuel, God is with us, reveals to us the most personal title of all of the Old Testament titles for Jesus. Now, not only will God be with and among us, he will take flesh and be one of us. Israel had prayed so long to see the face of the Almighty, to reveal to them his true nature, and he did so by being born in the manger in Bethlehem. God's desire is not for us to seek him confined in the concrete and plastered walls of a Temple. God wants us to seek him as he truly is, love beyond all telling. Love so immense that he is willing to stoop down, shed his glory, take on flesh, and live among us as one of us. It is only by becoming one with us that he can teach us to love as he loves. It is only by becoming the Son of Man that he can lead us to life and right the wrong of Adam which led to death. Only problem is that God went so far in revealing himself that he was rejected because it was unfathomable that God would take on flesh! This is the scandal of the Incarnation, scandalous yet wondrous, that God in his infinite love would take on our flesh in order to save us. What a wonderful paradox

So, we come to the end of the O Antiphons. There is a word play that the Latin words make when you combine the first letters starting with Emmanuel and going back to Sapientia which is lost in English translations (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia). Ero cras in Latin means "Tomorrow, I will be here." In the medieval mind, this pointed Christians to the Vigil Mass of the Nativity of Our Lord that was and continues to be celebrated at midnight on December the 25th throughout the world.

You are Lord, our justice and our mercy. Show us how to live. Lord Jesus, come!


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