“Oh my goodness!”
“Oh Good Lord!”
“O Holy Night!”
That tiny one syllable word, “O” certainly packs a lot of emotion and emphasis into a little space. When one cries out, “O” (or “OH!” as I think we see it spelled in more contemporary writing), it usually denotes a strong emotion or feeling that can be either negative (pain, fear, sorrow) or positive (wonder, joy, pleasure).
For the past three nights, the Church has sought to express all of those emotions during the daily readings and Vespers with the “O antiphons.” The days are short, the nights are long and cold, and our advent sacrifices and Christmas preparations often seem endless and at times insurmountable. So as a people, we cry out to Jesus in all of his many titles – O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jessie… and tonight: O Key of David!
As a young girl, I remember my children’s Bible illustrating the gates of heaven being closed and locked after the original sin of Adam and Eve. That same Bible showed the love of Jesus as the key to unlocking that gate and opening heaven to all those who believe.
O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: come, and lead forth the captive who sits in the shadows from his prison.
As we sojourn onward towards those open gates of heaven, we can take the opportunity to ask Jesus to unlock our hearts and minds, to love him and know him better, and to free ourselves from the prison of our own sins – even the little sins that only we are aware of. Tonight especially, we ask Jesus to be the key that opens the hearts and minds of our husbands and children as we truly strive for wisdom and yet ask for humility while we await His birth in just a few short nights.
For a number of years now, my family and I have enjoyed a special treat to help us remember all of the O antiphons. Tonight we will have a special Key Lime Pie. It sounds a little corny, but after doing this for so many years the kids really do remember the antiphons this way, and Key of David is especially popular! One year I made a little ornament from small keys for the Christmas tree, to be hung on this night. This year I found some little key chains to give to my children for this evening as a little sentimental gift. Then after our treat, and the exchange of this very tiny pre-Christmas gift, we will say the Vespers together as a family, and prepare to step from the shadows and darkness of our own little prisons, and accept the key of Christ’s love to re-open a whole new life in Him.
May these last few days of Advent bless you all abundantly!
Copyright 2016 Elena LaVictoire