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.

December 19, 2016 – New Life

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

Notice how this antiphon doesn’t say “branch of Jesse’s stem” or “flower of Jesse’s stem.” It calls Jesus the root of Jesse’s stem. Jesse was David’s (David and Goliath, aka King David) father. The line of David was to be the line of kings. Isaiah foretold that it would be from the Davidic line that the Messiah would come. We read in the New Testament that Joseph was of the House of David.

But, those familiar with David’s story know that David screwed up. And even though his son, Solomon, was the wisest of men, he too strayed away from God’s laws. The Kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon would not survive and was split into 2 kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. It wasn’t long before both were conquered by their enemies and taken away from the Promised Land. The tree of Jesse that had flourished was quite literally cut off at the stump.

But again, God is a God of fulfilled promises. Even though the Davidic line was indeed cut off, it was not uprooted. A new green shoot full of life would spring forth – Jesus. Just like in winter how a plant seems to die, come spring new life appears. Even when humanity goes astray and forgets about God, God never for a moment forgets about us. His love for us is eternal and His love for all His people is equal. No one is beneath or outside of God’s love.

When we turn away from God, when we cut ourselves off, God continues to reach out for us, just as the root of Jesse stretched itself outward and upward in the hopes of new life.

*** 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 18, 2016 – Lord and Ruler

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

A longer version of this antiphon is as follows:

O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, You appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and on Mount Sinai gave him Your Law. Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us.

This antiphon seeks to strongly and undisputably connect Jesus with God’s action in the Old Testament. Jesus is clearly the Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel – He is the head of the family. This means it is right and proper to say that Jesus appeared to Moses in the burning bush and on Mt. Sinai when Moses received the 10 Commandments.

I would like to hone in on the call for “an outstretched arm.” This is a very specific Old Testament phrase and is most often linked with the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

  • Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the LORD. I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and will deliver you from their slavery. I will redeem you by my outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment (Exodus 6:6).
  • Then the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders, and brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 26:8).

This antiphon emphasizes that Jesus, who in a specific time in history becomes the Paschal Lamb (through the gift of His Body and Blood as instituted at the Last Supper/Passover), not only participated but orchestrated the original Passover. Jesus was active in the Old Testament just as much as He is present in the New Testament.

This is incredible news for us. It reassures us and inspires us to hold fast to not just the promises of the Old Testament but also the promises Jesus makes in the New Testament. Some of the promises of Jesus comfort us – “Amen I say to you today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 – said to the Good Thief who repents of his sins). Others are meant to challenge us to commit ourselves more fully to the Gospel – “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil falsely against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12a).

We can trust in Jesus. He has a good track record.

*** 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.