During the final days of Advent, the anticipation increases as the birth of the Savior draws near. In the seven evenings before Christmas, this anticipation is marked by the “O” Antiphons. This liturgical tradition from the earliest days of the Church emphasizes a different prophetic title of Christ as foreshadowed by the prophet Isaiah. These are included in Evening Prayer on the final seven nights of Advent.
The Third "O" Antiphon
O Root of Jesse, come.
This ensign raised for all
to whom the nations pray,
before whom kings keep silent:
to rescue quickly come.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke.
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
In the days before my first child went off to college as a freshman, I wanted to leave him with some words he could read and return to over the year ahead and the years to come. I think a lot of parents consider this type of activity at this moment in their child’s life. How do we send off a cherished one in a single moment, whom we raised their entire lifetime?
My missal to him contained fatherly advice, sampled lyrics from a poignant song, the typical stuff. But its final sentence was this…
Leave a place in your heart to feel God’s love for you – give Him some room – He only needs a little. Love, Dad.
I could have started – and ended – with that one sentence.
You see, when you allow God to be present in you, you allow Him to grow in you. You become more able to conquer fear. You begin to find joy and – better still – you begin to provide joy. You serve. Your life becomes a witness to the presence of God in your life, and that aids those around you in seeing His presence in their own lives.
Even though our Blessed Mother Mary was perplexed by Gabriel, and even though she felt the same fear we would all feel on hearing the news he bore, she had a place in her heart that was committed to that love in the Lord. She trusted in the Lord. She said ‘yes’. And, she bore for us the Savior of the world.
My prayer for each of us, during these days of joyful anticipation for the coming of Jesus and all the days beyond, is that we too open our hearts to Christ and give Him some room. He only needs a little!
By Kevin Dougherty
fill our hearts with love for all nations
and our minds with understanding to serve them
so that our actions will be pleasing to you.
May your peace, which surpasses all understanding,
guard our hearts and minds.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.