Wednesday, December 18

O Come, O Come Emmanuel [9th century Latin]

O come, o come, thou Lord of Might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times didst give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Today, we continue to focus on one of the "O Antiphons" which have been captured in the classic hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Each verse of the hymn is about one of the seven images of Christ.  An antiphon is a short text, often taken from scripture, which is used as a refrain in the liturgy to highlight a theme or aspect of the worship which might otherwise have been missed.  Since the 700s CE, the church has used the images of Christ as a source for antiphons from December 17 to 23.  As we approach Christmas Eve the "O Antiphons" help us to keep our focus on Christ.

When the Antiphons are in Latin, the first letters of the seven images of Christ —
Sapientia (Wisdom),
Adonai (Lord),
Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse),
Clavis David (Key of David),
Oriens (Radiant Dawn),
Rex Gentium (Ruler of the nations), and
Emmanuel (God with us)
—make up a backward acrostic, spelling ero cras:  "tomorrow I will [come]."

Today we focus on Christ as "Lord."  in Luke 6:46-49 Jesus asks,   "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you?   I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them.   That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.   But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house."   When this same moment is described in Matthew's gospel Jesus prefaces the parable about building the house with, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

One way to describe integrity is to say that we have integrity when what we say and what we do align.  Getting the profession, "Jesus is Lord," backed up with concrete behavior is how we practice our faith with integrity.  We have to walk the walk if we want others to think that we are anything more than pious  hypocrites.  And what is it that the Lord expects of us?  The easiest way to say it is to quote Jesus in John 13:34-35, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

There is simply no better marker than our capacity to love to show us whether we take the Lordship of Christ seriously.  One of my favorite literary mentors is Carlo Carretto.  He writes:
" . . . I repeat St. Augustine's words: 'Love and do as you will.'  Don't worry about what you ought to do.  Worry about loving.  Don't interrogate heaven repeatedly and uselessly saying, 'What course of action should I pursue?'  Concentrate on loving instead."     And, I can only say, 'Live love, let love invade you. It will never fail to teach you what you must do.'" (p.23  Carlo Carretto — Letters from the Desert)

Daily Collect:
Lord of Love, we follow you when we join you in the noble and holy work of loving.  Teach us today the depth of your love and help us as we try to join you in loving others as you have loved us.  In the name of our loving Lord, Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

Paul Lang