Today’s antiphon gets personal. We are no longer praying about ‘us’ but about ‘me’. I am the one fettered by sin, sitting in darkness. It is I who need a Saviour:
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, who open and no one shuts, who shuts, and no one opens, come and free from prison him who sits in darkness and the shadow of death.
Sometimes we avoid confronting the reality of sin in our own lives by talking in comforting abstractions or generalisations. Thus, ‘human sin’ situates our own tiny (sic) contribution to the world’s darkness in something huge, stretching from the dawn of time to the edge of eternity. Alternatively, we posit sin outside ourselves, focusing on ‘those [others, understood] who are bound by habits of sin’. ‘It touches us not; our withers are unwrung,’ we say, a little nervously. How hideously mistaken we are!
The plain fact is that there is no such thing as D.I.Y. salvation, no escaping confrontation with evil, both within and without. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The prison we have made for ourselves may have be familiar, but it isn’t where we really want to be. God alone can set us free from everything that binds us or casts a shadow over our lives. He alone can lighten our darkness. At Christmas we shall celebrate the immensity of love which willed to take flesh, suffer and die to restore the fullness of life and liberty to . . . not just us, but me. That thought makes me tremble, as I hope it does you.
Note: today’s O antiphon, text and music (Flash needed) is available with scripture references here, http://bit.ly/1roZnkA