The Church has helped us reflect on the mystery
of the Incarnation on the last seven days.
For a week it has daily presented different titles for Jesus. The titles stand at the heart of the “O
Antiphons” – “O” for the way each begins.
These are sung in the “alleluia” acclamation at Mass and echoed in Evening
Prayer. It has been cleverly noted that the
first letters of the Latin titles given backwards make a statement. Beginning with E for Emmanuel on December 23,
they form the acrostic ERO CRAS. In
Latin this term means “I will be tomorrow.”
Indeed, today at midnight we will celebrate the Son of God’s coming to
us as a human being. This ever-gracious gift
should take our breath away.
The titles of the “O antiphons” in the
order of the acrostic run as follows. E
is for Emmanuel: Jesus is literally “God-with-us.” R is for Rex:
he is the king who will care for our needs.
O is for Oriens: Jesus comes
as the dawn bringing the light of truth.
C is for Clavis: he holds the
key of David to heaven’s door. R is for Radix: he comes from the root of Jesse,
a royal pedigree assuring capability. A
is for Adonai: he is the Lord God of
Israel who loves the poor and oppressed.
Finally, S is for Sapientia:
Jesus provides wisdom to assist our earthly sojourn.
We are encouraged to attend mass tonight. The reason for a late-night mass – now seldom
at midnight -- runs deeper than waiting for the official toll of December 25. In the gospels Jesus promises to return “like
a thief in the night.” He commands his disciples to stay awake watching for
him. This order should move us beyond
dining and exchanging presents on Christmas Eve. More importantly, we should pray and perhaps
reflect again on the titles of the “O antiphons.” It would be a truly fitting way to prepare for
meeting Christ at mass in the middle of the night.
Bilingual Roman Catholic priest of the Southern Dominican Province. Currently serving as rector of the St. Martin de Porres National Shrine and Institute in Memphis, TN. The "homilettes" on this website are completely his work. He may be contacted for preaching at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telephone: (415) 279-9234.