December 22- O’Antiphon

Dec. 22
What do you desire?
“O King of all nations and the Desired of all, you are the Cornerstone that binds two into one. Come, and save man whom you fashioned out of clay.”
Only Jesus can be the true “King of all nations” because the heart of every human being desires him from the moment they are born. Every human being desires happiness and fulfillment. Jesus is the only one who can fulfill this desire: “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10).
What do you seek? What is your greatest desire? We desire many things. Some of them are even contrary to others. Some are deeper and others superficial. The path to union with Christ, to real happiness, involves the purification of our desires. What desires keep me away from God? What desires promise me false happiness or fleeting pleasure? Ask God to help you identify those disordered desires and give you the grace to put them in order. Make a specific resolution to abstain from one disordered desire during Christmas time. Every time you are tempted to give into it, say to the Lord, “I choose you.”
Lord, you are the deepest longing of my heart. Purify my desires, order them toward you so that I may love you and know true joy.
What are the “O Antiphons”?

The O Antiphons refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.

The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the O Antiphons was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, Keep your O and The Great O Antiphons were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the O Antiphons have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

The importance of O Antiphons is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

Let’s now look at each antiphon with just a sample of Isaiah’s related prophecies :

O Sapientia: O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation. Isaiah had prophesied, The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:2-3), and Wonderful is His counsel and great is His wisdom. (Isaiah 28:29).

O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. Isaiah had prophesied, But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the lands afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. (Isaiah 11:4-5); and Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us. (Isaiah 33:22).