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Dec. 23: O Emmanuel

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  • Brjeromeleo@aol.com
    +PAX Since the 24th is First Vespers of Christmas, actually beginning the solemnity, today s antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons. The Roman Church
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 22, 2006

      Since the 24th is First Vespers of Christmas, actually beginning the
      solemnity, today's antiphon is the last of the great O Antiphons. The
      Roman Church formerly made more extensive use of the Jewish custom of
      beginning feasts the night before, spanning sunset to sunset, but now
      reserves that practice for Sundays and solemnities. Too bad, in a
      way. First Vespers of many lesser feasts used to be a joy, and it was
      a further connection to our Jewish roots.

      A bit of trivia, for which I am indebted to Joyce, who learned it in a
      college in the 50's. If you take the first letters of the second words (after
      the initial O,) which begin each antiphon, you get the acronym: SARCORE.
      Read backwards, on Dec. 24, that spells "Ero cras" Latin for "Tomorrow I
      will be (there)".
      Now some monastic of the Middle Ages must have had a lot of time on his (or
      hands to figure that one out.

      "O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of Nations and their
      Savior: come, and save us, O Lord our God!"

      Emmanuel- God with us- this was a radical fulfillment of the
      Messianic prophecies which the Jews had never dreamed would happen: a
      divine Messiah. Though the promises all refer to and fit Jesus, the
      Messiah expected by the Israelites was not divine. To their
      reasoning, none could be literally divine, really the Son of God.
      Their expectation of a saving ruler did not assume that God would
      share His very nature and essence with the Anointed One.

      Emmanuel reflects an entirely Christian and entirely new theology,
      one of Incarnation and an immanence hitherto unknown. God with us,
      sharing every hardship of humanity in His own flesh, dwelling not in
      a Temple spiritually, but as flesh and blood among humanity, wishing
      to remain with us until the end of time. This is a dramatic contrast
      to the affection, yet distance with which the Lord was regarded in
      the Old Testament.

      Emmanuel- God with us- it finally springs the liturgical construct
      of "waiting" all these weeks and admits that we knew He was there all
      along. Advent has that flavor, of a pretended waiting for Him Whom we
      know to have already arrived. We place ourselves in the shoes of
      those who had Him not in order to better appreciate Him Whom we have
      had all along.

      We hail Christ as King and Lawgiver (Isaiah 32:22,) and echo the
      dying words of Jacob in Gen. 49:10, " The scepter will not pass from
      Judah, nor a ruler form his thigh, till He comes that is to be sent.
      He is the expectation of the nations." We ask Him to save us. The
      Latin "Salva" , the imperative form of "to save," is related
      to "salus", health, wholeness. We are asking for a holistic well-
      being of mind, soul and body when we thus ask to be saved. We
      are, in fact, asking to finally be made perfect, fully whole and sound,
      something only God can do!

      Lastly, we no longer beat around the bush, (burning or otherwise!) We
      come right out and directly call Jesus "our Lord and our God." It is
      the crowning acclamation of faith to a long season of expectation.

      A blessed late Advent and Christmas to you all. I have enjoyed
      sharing these with you because I truly feel they are the best poetry
      left in the liturgy of the West, even beating out the now pared-down
      Exultet at Easter!

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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