Saturday, 18 December 2010

Ember Saturday in Advent & O Adonai

Carissimi: another beautiful occurence today as the Ember Saturday Mass (Missa "Veni") coincides with the second "O" Antiphon, "O Adonai" in the fortunate way that Missa "Prope es tu" yesterday coincided with "O Sapientia"; the themes of the Masses and the Anitphons wonderfully mirrored in each other. A happy coincidence because, of course, it is not always necessarily so that the Antiphons and the Masses occur on the same date.

O 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.

English: 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.

The astute amongst you will notice that the word "Adonai" is not Latin! It is of course Hebrew and is the subsitutory word used in Scripture for the "Name of God" i.e. YHWH considered to be used sparingly for its sanctity and power, so much so that the Hebrews would not speak it out loud and instead would say "Adonai" whenever YWWH was written. Adonai means “lord,” “my lord” or “master" in much the same way that we use "Domine" in Latin in liturgical prayer to address Christ. Here of course is part of the reason for the use of the term "Adonai" in today's antiphon...

In today's Ember Mass we read five Old Testament lessons, four from Isaiah and the last from Daniel, each describing the revelation of God to His people, the rememberance of His promises to them and the redemption He accomplishes for them culminating in the great canticle "Benedictus". Similarly in the O Antiphon we are reminded by use of the word "Adonai" and the reference to Moses and the burning bush, that God has revealed Himself to us and of course, will reveal Himself in Christ who is "Emmanuel" God with us. You may also recognise the other inference to "I am" from "Adonai" refering to Christ and the "I am" sayings from St John's Gospel e.g. "I am the bread of life" etc, leaving us in no doubt about His Divinity.

The second part of the the Antiphon and the Epistle reading from Thessalonians [II Thess ii:1-8] remind us of our need to keep our promises to God - just as the earlier readings and the first part of the Antiphon remind us of God's fidelity to His promises. St Paul urges us not to be led astray and tells us that "the apostasy must come first"; the next part of the Antiphon refers to the Law ie the Commandents (decalogue) given by God to Moses. Clearly then both the Mass and the Antiphon are instructing us to remain faithful to God - despite all temptations - for God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him!

The Gospel and the last part of the Antiphon both remind us of redemption - that God saves - and clearly the last line of the Antiphon is a clear pointer as to how - Adonai - Christ - will save, "redeem us with an outstreched arm" a direct allusion to the Cross of course and the last words of the Gospel [Luke iii:1-6] "...and all mankind is to see the saving power of God" re-echoing all that we had been reminded of by the lessons from the Prophet at the beginning of the Mass and of the first part of the Antiphon, "O Adonai". Thus we see again, as with O Sapientia yesterday, the cycle completed in Christ - Alpha and Omega - the beginning and the end.

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