Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Advent

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and with an outstretched arm, redeem us.

Today’s O Antiphon is based on two passages from Exodus. In Chapter 3 we read how God appeared to Moses in “fire flaming out of a bush” which, “though on fire, was not consumed.” Moses asked God to reveal his Name and God responded: “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.” In Hebrew the name “I AM” was so sacred that the Israelites did not utter or write it. Instead, whenever it appeared in the Scriptures (as can be seen in most Bibles), the word “LORD” or “Adonai” in Hebrew was substituted. After revealing this Name to Moses, God told Moses that through him, God himself would lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. Thus God is the true “Leader of the house of Israel”. In order for Israel to live in freedom they needed the moral law to guide them. God gave them this law, the Ten Commandments, on Mount Sinai (see Exodus 20: 1-21). When we pray this antiphon we declare our belief that Jesus Christ is truly God and can be called by the Divine Name, “Adonai” or “Lord.” As St. Paul wrote: “And no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians: 12: 3). As God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, so Jesus frees humanity from sin. May the “outstretched arm” of Jesus free us from sin this Advent and lead all humanity to the freedom of the children of God. May God give all people the grace to embrace the moral law that, when followed, will alone bring about the harmony and peace for which humanity so longs.

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