Friday, December 17, 2010

O come, thou Lord of might

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Latin translation of O Adonai
O Lord and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Advent Carol
O come, O come, thou Lord of might, who to thy tribes on Sinai's height in ancient times didst give the Law in cloud and majesty and awe. Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

The antiphon for December 18th is based on the manifestation of God on Mount Sinai in the Book of the Exodus. God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, and the Torah (or "Law of Moses") became both the foundation of Jewish faith and life as well as the dawn of ethical monotheism in world history.

Adonai or “Lord” was the Hebrew word that the Jews used for the divine Name of Yahweh. We use it for Christ, the Wisdom from on high who is Lord of all creation. Christ is also Lord of the Covenant with the people he chose. The Lord made covenants with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

He guided his people Israel and gave them the Law. He protected and feed them in the wilderness. The Lord delivered them from unending slavery and bondage to Pharaoh. He went before them in the wilderness with an outstretched arm. All this pre-figured the great work of redemption that Christ did on the Cross. The Messiah was the one who would bring God's Law to fulfillment. He redeemed us his people from Satan and the eternal damnation of hell.

He once appeared clothed in the burning bush before Moses at Sinai. He has also appeared clothed in flesh at Bethlehem. He will appear again one day in glory to judge the living and the dead. And he is with us even now, veiled in the holy Mystery of the Eucharist.

What amazing contrasts we find in our Lord! He came in thunder and lightning to give the Law on Mount Sinai. At Christmas he comes in swaddling clothes. He will come again in glory. He comes humbly in the appearance of Bread and Wine.

We have great cause for rejoicing this holiday season. We can gather to celebrate Jesus’ birth, confident in a certain hope that he is true Wisdom, come down from on high, who guides us to salvation and reigns even now as Lord. And we rejoice that what we behold even now in types and shadows will be brought to perfect fulfillment when he comes again in glory.

Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). The Messiah was seen as one who would represent the rule of God's law and bring it to fulfillment (see Isaiah 11:4-5). As Lord, "he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet" (1 Corinthians 15:25). As Savior, Jesus fulfilled the obligations of the Law on behalf of sinners (see Romans 8:1-4).

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