Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
Lord and Ruler the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arms.
The redemption prayed for in this antiphon has happened – as mentioned in the last meditation: we are once again set to be free to enter into the dance with God. We can, however, insist on a return to the “slavery to our own reasonings”. It’s a path I well know: because I want to be Christian, but, you know, not all the way.
To call the divine child “Adonai” is a theological claim, a heavenly claim. To call him “Dux” or, as in a few days time, “Rex”, is a temporal claim, an earthly claim. If you will, it is a political claim. In Greek it is usually rendered “Kyrie” which is a title for Caesar. In Latin the title is usually “Domine” here, however, the text takes up the Hebrew word, one of the Divine Names – using it untranslated, to better make the theological point: this is God in the Flesh. As noted, it’s backed up with a temporal title, “Dux” or “Duke”. God was both of these things to Ancient Israel until they begged for an Earthly King “like the other tribes”. God said this desire for a visible, human Dux was a rejection of his kingship. In his mercy he gave them what they asked for, first a “king that looked like a king” in Saul, then a king that acted like one in David. Perhaps in a divine show of humor, he became one of the children of that earthly kingship: in and by himself returning the throne and crown to himself. As he is the Lawgiver in heaven through Moses, so he is the lawgiver on earth through his Church. The divine and the earthly are joined in this man: Christ is both God and Man and he is Lord of Heaven and Earth, both Adonai and Dux.
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.
What would it mean for a human person – or nation – to call this God-Man, “Adonai et Dux”? We know that Jesus, himself, said that just saying this was enough:
Non omnis qui dicit mihi, Domine, Domine, intrabit in regnum caelorum: sed qui facit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in caelis est, ipse intrabit in regnum caelorum.
Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Saint Paul adds: Et nemo potest dicere, Dominus Jesus, nisi in Spiritu Sancto. And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost. (I Corinthians 12:3) Simply saying it is not enough – there is the doing. Saint James says, “Estote autem factores verbi, et non auditores tantum: fallentes vosmetipsos.” But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (1:22) Saying is a start: but doing is the key.
I am aware at how good I am at saying. I am equally aware at how good my friends are at calling bull-pucky. I am thankful for my friends, liberal and conservative, Christians and not, who have challenged me since High School: saying you cannot be both Gay and Christian without warping one or the other beyond all recognition – so much so as to no longer need the name. I’m sorry it took most of my life to hear them, but I am thankful for them. Ditto the people who call bull-pucky on my lack of charity or, most recently, on my sloth. Saying, “Jesus is Adonai and Dux” means a serious essay towards fixing things over which he’s not Lord. I have learned to hear my Holy Guardian Angel saying “Stop That”. Just gotta learn to listen…
Thing is, Jesus makes it clear it’s possible not to get this point at all.
Multi dicent mihi in illa die: Domine, Domine, nonne in nomine tuo prophetavimus, et in nomine tuo daemonia ejecimus, et in nomine tuo virtutes multas fecimus? Et tunc confitebor illis: Quia numquam novi vos: discedite a me, qui operamini iniquitatem.
Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
It’s possible to spend your entire life going to church or thinking “spiritually” but never change your bed, your food, your social patterns. It’s possible for people to look at you and say “Yeah, he’s a Christian, but I’m thankful he’s not that sort of Christian: he’s kinda cool.” Or, if they are your friends, really, they may challenge your integrity on that point. Be sure to listen then – it may save your soul.
There will be preachers and prostitutes, pious peddlers and impious pastors, popes, police, patriarchs, politicians, and you and I standing before the throne at the last day: will our lives – or only our words – say “Adonai et Dux”?
What do your friends think?