The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study http://biblestudyforcatholics.com 73 Books. One Story. Your Story. Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:15:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The O Antiphons – “O Key of David” http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-key-david/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=o-antiphons-o-key-david http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-key-david/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 05:15:50 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=2098 Read

(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”)

O come, O come, thou Key of David come,
And open wide our heavenly home,
Make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

Refrain:
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

Reflect

In Isaiah 22, we discover one of the tasks of the prime minister of the Davidic Kingdom (called the al bayit in Hebrew) is to “carry the keys,” symbols of authority over the house of David. This sacred stewardship allowed the vicar of Judah’s king to open what others had shut and to close what had been opened. Centuries later, Jesus will have a fascinating conversation with his chief apostle, Peter, and entrust to him the keys of the renewed kingdom of David (Mt. 16:16-19), giving him the power to bind (close) and loose (open). Since Christ’s kingdom is eternal, these decisions made by Peter on earth are also recognized and ratified in heaven (Mt. 16:19). As the Gospel is preached by Peter and the first apostles, they carry forth the work of the Messiah, “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). What binds and blinds the human family is not a cement cell but our sins. And the apostles not only announced our liberation but were given the “keys” from the Key of David himself, to effect that forgiveness we need. In John, the Resurrected Jesus breaths on them and says, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). Every step Mary took to Bethlehem was one step closer to giving the world the Key of David which would set us free. That gift and power to forgive sin was entrusted to the successors of the apostles (the bishops) and by extension to the priests who serve the kingdom of Christ with them. Although Christ left the Church the sacramental means of our forgiveness (in Baptism and Reconciliation), we must walk through those gates of grace. The penitential tone of Advent reminds us of that gift and invites us to receive it anew.

Respond

Participate in one of the Advent penance services in your parish or diocese or plan a time to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation an integral part of your Advent devotions. When you welcome the Christ Child, do it with clean hands and a pure heart.

Rest

Let us rest in our Key of David today. He is not only our Key to freedom and deliverance from sin’s enslaving powers, he is the Door of our salvation (John 10:9). Receive his forgiveness. As Pope Francis loves to say, “We will tire of asking the Lord for forgiveness before he will ever tire of giving it to us.”

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The O Antiphons – “O Root of Jesse!” http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-root-jesse/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=o-antiphons-o-root-jesse http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-root-jesse/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:30:59 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=2096 Read

(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s stem, From every foe deliver them That trust Thy mighty power to save, And give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain: Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Reflect

United to our first two titles of the Messiah, we return to Isaiah 11 and the prophecy concerning the Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-5). Jesse was the father of King David, and the root of Jesse speaks of the continuity of the Davidic Kingdom. When Isaiah declared these words, times were bleak. The Davidic throne was in peril. Soon the city of Jerusalem and its temple would be leveled and burned to the ground. Judah’s last king would witness the public execution of his sons, be blinded by his Babylonian conquerers, and led into exile with his shamed and shaken subjects (2 Kings 25:7). Like a shattered and smoldering stump, Judah’s kingly line seems nothing but an object of scorn, and yet if you know anything about burned tree stumps, you know it is rarely the end of the story. Deep within the soil of God’s ancient promises (2 Samuel 7), the roots remain and soon shoots emerge from the blackened husk of that stump. When the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she, a virgin, will bear the Son of the Most High, he adds, “the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33). She walked in that promise, the long and difficult road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This king, as the O Antiphon intones, will come with mighty power to save us from a threat much greater than death. Our mortal enemy is sin. And so, as before, Crib and Cross are united. The King is born to save, to deliver, to give victory. Born to die, his offering on Calvary was the only way to rob death and sin of their grip on our globe (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Respond

In the Old Testament, when someone had been delivered from death, disease or destruction they offered the Lord a Thanksgiving offering and sang a psalm. Eucharist literally means “thanksgiving” and in it, we celebrate the ultimate deliverance from our greatest enemies: sin and death. This truth causes our mouths to be filled with praise, and because of it we sing for glory! Pray aloud today’s responsorial Psalm (Psalm 71), in light of God’s saving work on our behalf, and share this good news with at least one other person today.

Rest

Let us rest in the our mighty Root of Jesse today. Let us rest in the promises of God, which are sure and faithful, no matter how a situation may appear. Invite God’s life-giving root to enter and give life to a difficult situation in your life today. Note: Requests to post or reprint content from this site should be directed to editor@biblestudyforcatholics.com. 

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The O Antiphons – “O Lord!” http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-lord/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=o-antiphons-o-lord http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-lord/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:15:58 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=2038 Read

(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”)

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.

Refrain:
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

Reflect

We turn again to Isaiah, who speaks of the righteous reign of the Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:4-5) and how the Lord will be for us a judge, a ruler, a king and a savior (Isaiah 33:21-22).

The Lordship of Jesus is united intimately with being God’s chosen Messiah. St. Peter proclaimed on Pentecost, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). In fact, the Feast of Pentecost (the Jewish Feast of Shavuot) was the perfect place for St. Peter to make this connection, since it was a celebration of the giving of the Law on Sinai, when the people of Israel accepted the Lord as their God. As Lord, Jesus has sent his Spirit to write a new law, not upon tablets of stone, but on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-32; Ezekiel 36:26).

For most of us, the Lordship of Jesus can remain a bit of an abstraction. While it means many glorious things, at its most basic level it means directing our hearts, affections, attentions and energies to Him. It means seeking first his kingdom above all else (Mt. 6:33). It means daily, and sometimes moment by moment, enthroning Christ firmly and faithfully on the throne of our hearts, uniting our will with His will. St. Peter will continue in that verse to remind us that If Christ is truly our Lord, we will willingly and joyfully share our King and his Kingdom with others. This season especially, we can offer the world a counter sign to the avarice and consumerism, the endless purchasing and parties that characterizes our culture, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Respond

Take a clear-eyed “throne check” of your heart. If you find yourself there, crowned and robed, consider “re-enthroning” Christ. If he is not Lord of all, he is not your Lord at all. Most of our misery in life comes when we attempt to rule ourselves and others, after having removed Jesus from his rightful place. What are some concrete ways you can manifest his kingdom of peace, joy and the Holy Spirit in the conversations and tasks of today?

Rest

Let us rest in the Lordship of Christ today. Rest in the knowledge that no matter how disordered our world, desks or kitchens appear, God in Christ is on the throne. He is guiding human history and the smallest details of our life. In your heart declare, “Not my will, Lord, but thine be done.”

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The O Antiphons – “O Wisdom!” http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-wisdom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=o-antiphons-o-wisdom http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/o-antiphons-o-wisdom/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 05:15:25 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=2036 Read

(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”!

“O Come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Refrain:
Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel, shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Reflect

If you read through the Book of Emmanuel (Isaiah 7-12), you know that one of the characteristics of the Messiah, the revived Root of Jesse, is that God’s Spirit would rest upon him in a singular way (Isaiah 11:1-2). This happens at the Baptism of Jesus (Mt. 3:13-17).

According to Isaiah, the Spirit will bring to the Messiah seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Because of God’s great generosity, these seven gifts are not only for Jesus, but for us! While their fullest expression belongs only to Jesus, he shares them with every baptized believer (Catechism, Nos. 1830-1831). They help us to be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in our lives. They give us the strength and courage to follow in Jesus’s footsteps.

It is to Christ as Wisdom, though, that we want to turn our attention to today, as the Antiphon intones. St. Paul agrees: Christ himself has become our Wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30), and the chief way he shows God’s wisdom is from the Cross, in Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). What does this have to do with the Nativity? For Franciscans, the Crib and the Cross are inseparable and often shown together in art. This is no accident as they both point to a divine wisdom that appears to be nothing but foolishness to the world. God comes both to the Crib and Cross as a perfect gift of self: a full, free, fruitful and faithful offering. In Bethlehem, Divinity is revealed in humility; on Calvary, Life is found in death. Consider how Mary was witness to this great wisdom in both places, and how it shaped her own continual “yes” to our Father in heaven.

Respond

Lord, in this Antiphon we ask you to show us the path of knowledge, and to “teach us in her ways to go.” Give us the courage, this season, and throughout our lives, to model the wisdom, humility and love revealed in both Crib and Cross. Help us daily to make of ourselves a full, free, fruitful and faithful offering to you, and to give ourselves away in love to others.

Rest

Take a moment or two to rest in this revelation of God’s eternal wisdom – the love offerings of Jesus in Bethlehem and Calvary. Rest in the immensity of God’s profound love for you.

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What’s in a Name? Reflections on the O Antiphons with Thomas Smith http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/introduction-reflections-o-antiphons-thomas-smith/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=introduction-reflections-o-antiphons-thomas-smith http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/introduction-reflections-o-antiphons-thomas-smith/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:15:31 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=2034 the history, practice and invitation of the O Antiphons.

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Today, we will introduce you to the history, practice and invitation of the O Antiphons. Beginning tomorrow through December 23rd, we will daily explore these seven ancient prayers of the people of God as we journey to Bethlehem.

While some scholars propose that the O Antiphons have been invoked by the Church since the fifth century, we can say with certainty they have been “officially” prayed for at least 1,300 years. The Medieval monasteries would ring their largest bell as the choirs of monks intoned Mary’s Magnificat and these Advent antiphons. They are rich meditations on the One who is to come. All seven can be found in the oracles of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. Isaiah, which was called the 5th Gospel by the earliest Christians, gives us many memorable images of the Messiah.

Although there are seven titles in the O Antiphons, only one has remained firmly in popular Christian culture, thanks to an Advent hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This Messianic title is the final of the seven O Antiphons. To help us pray and even SING these beautiful prayers, I’ve used a translation that matches that familiar Advent melody. The other titles are O Wisdom, O Lord, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Light, and O King of the Nations.

Reflect

The journey of the Holy Family from Nazareth to Bethlehem was an 80 mile route. Most healthy people could make the trip in four days of vigorous walking, but for a young mother in her final days of pregnancy, most believe the trek would have been about a week. Since the antiphons are the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve, they are the perfect “songs for the road.” I imagine Mary and Joseph reflecting on the ancient titles of the Messiah given by Isaiah as they trace their steps to the City of David. When we pray them, we join the Holy Family on their journey.

Respond

Read what is traditionally called the Book of Emmanuel in Isaiah, chapters 7-11. Mark all of the references or synonyms you find to the seven titles of the O Antiphons. Take notice of which one strikes your heart and why.

For this introductory session, let’s offer a simple prayer:

“Father, thank you for sending us the gift of your Son, Jesus. Help us, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to enter more fully into the Light of his life as we pray together these ancient antiphons. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, help us to receive him with open arms and in turn, share him with the world. Amen.”

Rest

Each title of Jesus is, like him, a resting place (Matthew 11:29-30). When the seven days begin, we will invite you to sit quietly for a minute or two in the language of that O Antiphon and be attentive to how the Lord may be speaking to you through it.

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