O Key of David and the Scepter of the House of Israel,
what you open , no one else can close again,
what you close no one can open ;
o come and lead the captive from prison,
free those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
The fourth of the Advent antiphons evokes the coming of Jesus with a title referring to the great King David and the prophecy of Isaiah, who wrote:
‘I will put the key of the house of David on his shoulder; when it opens, no one will close; when it closes, no one will open it‘ (Is.22, 22)
How to understand this prophecy? The answer comes from the Apocalypse of St. John, in which Christ presents himself as the One who has the key of David, the key of death and of the abyss (Rev 3: 7).
Jesus is the one who opens the gate of the eternal kingdom to us, as he himself said:
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ (Mt.28,19)
Jesus Christ has the key, and even better, he himself is the key, the only key that unlocks all prisons and leads us to eternal happines.
I know St. Thomas says, that only God can make you happy, God alone can satisfy the will of man. God alone constitutes man’s happiness. And St.Augustine says: ‘As the soul is the life of the body, so God is man’s life of happiness.’ (I-II.2,8)
Your body is much smaller than the universe, but your heart is much bigger - infinitely bigger. Your heart is that which loves, desires, seeks, hunts and hungers for happines. Your heart has a hole in it,like a keyhole.You are a God-sized keyhole. He created you after His image. The entire universe isn’t a big enough key to turn that lock and open the secret of your heart...God is not an option, for us. 'God is the only game in the town,' as Peter Kreeft explains.
The Incarnation is God’s answer to the longing of the human heart. If you are in any darkness, if sin has held your freedom, take hold of Jesus - He is the key that unlocks all prisons.
In his encyclical on Love Pope Benedict XVI writes that the whole programme of Mary’s life was not to set herself at the centre, but leaving space for God, who is encountered both in prayer and in service of neighbour.
’Mary's greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself. She is lowly: her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Lk 1:38, 48). She knows that she will only contribute to the salvation of the world if, rather than carrying out her own projects, she places herself completely at the disposal of God's initiatives.’
Mary handed herself over completely to God and in this she finds true freedom and happiness. So often freedom is presented to us as a freedom to do as we desire and therfore we most expel God from our lives. Mary challenges this false notion of freedom and teaches us that true freedom is only found by making God the ground of our lives and the centre of our personal stories.
If you would like to hear us singing this 'O Antiphon', please click here.
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