O Adonai. Thoughts for December 18



Starting on the octave before Christmas Day, December 17, the Catholic Church, in Her, Liturgy of the Hours (The Divine Office), shifts to a series of what are known as, “O Antiphons,” because each stanza starts with “O.”  The popular English Christmas hymn, “Oh, Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel,” is based on the O Antiphons.

     The particular reading for today, is the, O Adonai, Antiphon:


O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.


O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

     It is particularly interesting that this is the antiphon for the day, because the Mass reading is about St. Joseph from the Gospel of Matthew 1: 18 – 25:

[18]Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit;

[19] and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
[20] But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit;
[21] she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
[22] All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
[23] “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emmanuel”
(which means, God with us).
[24] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,
[25] but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

There is a link, here, between the Old and New Testament.  In the Old Testament, Joseph, the son of Jacob, is a, “master dreamer.”  He is forced into Egypt through no fault of his own.  His brothers sold him into slavery, but although they meant it for evil, God meant it for good, because Joseph would be later in a position to save both his father and brothers from famine, but, also, the whole of Israel, who came to live In Israel.  Out of evil would come good.

     After his death, a new pharaoh had never known of Joseph and Israel was put into slavery.  After many years of suffering, it would be Moses who would lead the Israelite out of Egypt to a land, “flowing with milk and honey.”  They would establish Jerusalem and the country of Israel by clearing the nations.

     In the New Testament, another Joseph, born of another Jacob, would be another master dreamer, receiving two revelations by angels in two dreams, the first to take Mary as his wife and name her child, Jesus, and, the second, to flee, against his will, to Egypt. Herod meant to kill the child.  He meant his act for evil, but God meant it for good, because out of Egypt would come a second Moses who would lead, first the Israelite and, second, the whole world to a new land of, “rich food and choice wine.”  Jesus, the second Moses would establish a new Jerusalem, a new Israel, not by clearing the nations, but by clearing the sins of the world.  In both cases, it was Joseph who went into Egypt and it was Moses who came out.

     Thus, are the words of the O Adonai fitting for today:

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

This second Moses, this Adonai, are one.  Just as by the burning fire of the unburned bush was born a revelation to the first Moses that God was there, with him, so, too by the burning fire of the Holy Spirit would be born a new revelation to the whole house of Israel, a new leader, who, likewise, would be a revelation to them that God was there with them and they, too would know deliverance, if only they would turn from the Egypt of their sins and pass through the purifying desert of faith, to find the Jerusalem yet to come.

The Chicken


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