O Lord

O Adonai, 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.

JMJ

The first antiphon spoke of the Wisdom of God which can seem abstract, unless you know the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. The second antiphon is far less abstract. This one uses a title of God in the Old Testament, and highlights what may have been missing if the first antiphon was left to stand on its own. He who is coming at Christmas is God. Adonai.

Since we speak of God the Word, the Christian tradition has held that anytime God speaks in the Old Testament, it has been God the Word that was heard, the Second Person of the Trinity. So this verse speaks of Jesus as the one “who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai.” Jesus is not only the Word of God, he is also the only Word ever spoken.

“By him were all things made” says St John. “And without him was not anything made that has been made.” Thomas Aquinas, following the Fathers, teaches that God is the Essence and Being Subsisting, “Deus est ipsum esse per se subsistens. God’s essence is his Being, his being is his Essence. The all others participate in Being because of God, we have essence because of our relationship to God.

This is the God who comes to us at Christmas.

And this is why his coming is so inspiring of our Love: what do you know of babies? They are weak? Yes, the almighty God became weak for love of us. The outstretched arm that comes to save us shivers in the cold and can only clasp a finger. They are helpless? Yes, the defender of Israel became helpless, the provider of all needing a mother’s breast, the warmth of her arms, the protection of a father. Babies are not only unlearned but they are not yet able to learn at all. The synapses of their brain are not yet even formed to fire. The Word that spoke all things into being cannot even form words to speak. The wisdom behind all things cannot even think thoughts. How is this possible?

Love makes it so. The humility of God the Son before the plans of the Father makes it so. Yet I cannot understand it, how the Majesty of Supernal Radiance can leap silently into the arms of a human woman to mess his own diapers, to teethe and to suffer the embarrassment of acne and school yard bullies. How is God so in love with us that he would do this?

And yet we offer only scorn in return and he takes that too. If you hold out a finger you will feel how strong his hands are. Adonai.

Author: Huw Richardson

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He has worked in tech (mostly) since 1999 and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.