December 22, 2016 – Unity

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Today’s antiphon is particularly insightful for our world today. We are recognizing that Jesus is King of all nations. He is not king over some nations or peoples. Nor is He king over a special selection of people, particularly those who agree with our understanding of Jesus or our worldly perspective. If we are to shout this antiphon as it is intended (today even gets an exclamation point at the end of it), then we are recognizing the universality of Jesus as King of all nations, of all peoples.

This antiphon was especially important for the early Church because of the divide that existed between the Jewish people and the Gentiles (basically everyone who wasn’t a Jew). There were many laws and customs that restricted or even forbid contact between the two groups, mostly imposed by the Jewish side of the equation. If Jesus is King of all nations, then that means that He is King over Jew and Gentile alike.

Think of our world today, particularly the political tensions that have arisen in America yes, but many other countries as well. Consider Syria and other war-torn countries where the mentality of “us vs. them” is literally killing people of every age every single day. Today’s antiphon reminds us that Jesus is both King and keystone, or cornerstone. Jesus is the King of unity. This unity is foundational, the cornerstone, of the Church. As members of Christ’s Church, this unity is supposed to course through our veins. We are called to see one another as men and women uniquely and specifically formed by God. There is no room for “us vs. them” when we recognize and love one another as images of God.

*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook pageDaily Graces.

December 21, 2016 – Light

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

In yesterday’s antiphon, the last line said “come and free the prisoners of darkness!” What could be a more beautiful description than a radiant dawn banishing the darkness of our lives.

We have walked from the kingship of David into a dark time in Israel’s history. The kingdom split, leaving 10 tribes in the north (the Kingdom of Israel) and 2 tribes in the south (the Kingdom of Judah). Even to this day, scholars are not sure what happened to the 10 tribes in the north. They know that the Assyrians came and conquered the northern kingdom, but there are minimal records, if any, about what happened to the people. In the south, the Kingdom of Judah was also conquered but by the Babylonians. These last two tribes are what the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, primarily follows. As you might have already guessed, the fate of the chosen people was pretty grim. It’s no wonder that they were looking for the Emmanuel, the Messiah

How appropriate that today, the darkest day of the year, is the day that we celebrate Jesus, the coming Light of the World – O Radiant Dawn.

Each of us have dark corners, places we are not proud of and would rather not others know about. In his Catholicism series, Bishop Robert Barron talks about the windshield of a car as similar to our lives. When we are driving in the dark with no light our windshield looks nearly spotless. It would be easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that perhaps we have no problem spots, no reason to evaluate how our lives are going. However, when we are driving toward the light we can see every imperfection, every problem, every area where we need to grow, change and transform.

What is beautiful about our God is that when we orient ourselves toward His light, it is not glaring or harsh. Rather, God’s light is full of love and splendor. Yes, we see the places where we fall short, but in the sight of God’s love and mercy we can see that there is a way forward. There is forgiveness, mercy and compassion. We are freed from our imprisonment to sin as we step forward into God’s glorious light.

*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook pageDaily Graces.


December 20, 2016 – Open Doors

O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

We talked about King David yesterday and we find him mentioned here today. The antiphon calls Jesus the Key of David. A key is a symbol of authority. The one who bears the key is capable of opening a door or locking it. Jesus is the one who opened the gates of heaven after they were closed by Adam and Eve’s sin. Jesus is the key.

When we give Jesus authority in our lives we are asking Him to do two things. We are asking Him to open our lives to new possibilities, experiences and people who will help us on our journey of faith. We are also asking Him to close us off from danger and temptations which could harm us. We are not perfect nor is the world perfect, so each of us have experienced times when we felt like a door should have been opened to us that remained locked. We have also experienced times when we felt like there was no way out, that each place we tried was sealed against us. Or perhaps there have been moments where we wish some doors were locked, that there were too many choices and we weren’t sure which one was truly the right one.

This is the beauty and the curse of free will. Jesus knows the way we should go, but we don’t always follow Him through the right door. There was a prayer that my mom would pray when we were growing up (and still does pray today) and I find myself continuing to pray. She would ask God to make the right path easy and the wrong paths difficult. When faced with a decision where she was unsure what to choose, she asked God to remove any obstacles from the way He desired for her. Ben and I have adopted a similar prayer for our family.

When it’s all said and done, we are still broken. Our wills are bent and are inclined to the wrong path. We are all in need of a savior. We are all in need of someone to open wide the gates of prisons we place ourselves in.

*** Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook pageDaily Graces.