O Oriens – the 5th Advent Meditation

 Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

 Dawn, splendor of eternal light, and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

When Jesus said, Ego sum lux mudi, I am the light of the world (St John 8:12). What does that mean? What does it mean when we call him the “Sun of Justice” or when we hymn him, as in the Phos Hilaron, as the “light of the glory of the Father”?

What we mean is that Jesus is the light by which we see.  Not just spiritually, but at all. The Wednesday morning hymn of the Western Office makes this point, drawing the comparison between Christ and the dawn:

When breaks the day, and dawn grows bright,
Christ nearer seems, the Light of Light:
From us, like shades that night-time brings,
Drive forth, O Light, all darksome things. 

Earth’s dusky veil is torn away,
Pierced by the sparkling beams of day:
Our life resumes its hues apace,
Soon as our Day-Star shews his face. 

So thee, O Christ , alone we seek,
With conscience pure and temper meek:
With tears and chants we humbly pray
That thou wouldst guide us through each day. 

For many a shade obscures each sense
Which needs thy beams to purge it thence:
Light of the Morning Star, illume,
Serenely shining, all our gloom.

Many a shade obscures each sense which needs Thy beams… not just the sun’s rays but the Son’s light: the light of lights.  The sun is only a reflection of God.

This thing is driving me this Advent: God is the first – everything else follows.  If the Sun reminds us of God it is because God is light in his essence: Everything else is created light.  Jesus says “I am the Truth”.  Everything in this world that is true is a reflection of Jesus who is, in his person, Truth itself.

The myths we made before the dawn came to us are true because of the Light himself. They are echoes before the fact from the omega point of all time on the Cross. We do not liken God to the King of Beasts and make stories, but rather the King of Beasts is and our stories are felt as truth because God is who he is in his person.

I stood these toys around a Christmas tree on a desk in my office.  Everyone – believers or not – instantly knew what was being said because of the Truth they represent echoes off them.  I don’t think God’s like an Android figurine (or a porceline one) but rather God is truth and pretty much anything can reflect it, or echo it back.  We see God in a giant mountain or a galaxy or a lover’s eyes because God is who God is.

Dawn means something at all because of Christmas.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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