The final ‘O’ Antiphon for Advent seeks the light of Christ even (especially) during lockdown.
O Morning star, radiance of eternal light, sun of justice, come and enlighten those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death.
With an early lockdown, the five day window of relaxation at Christmas has been removed, and what had once offered a glimmer of light has now been overshadowed by lockdown rules and a different kind of Christmas celebration.
Plans have had to be aborted, and families separated. This, of course, causes a varied amount of disruption and disappointment for different people. There is, for so many, so much doom and gloom when all they were seeking was comfort and company, warmth and light.
And yet, in the midst of these Christmas disruptions, our celebrations continue in some shape or form. Christmas can’t be cancelled, for who can cancel the yearly reminder of the Incarnation, and the honouring of the presence of Jesus, who is the Morning Star that marks the onset of a new dawn, a new day.
A constant phrase in Holy Scripture as God relates to his people is the message ‘Do no be afraid.’ Time and time again we hear those words, ‘Do not be afraid.’ There has been much fear this year, and many dark times for people but Christmas is for those dark times, as Christ comes to enlighten those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death.
We fill our homes with lights and bright decorations, evergreen trees and holly wreaths as we cling to signs of life. At the deepest and darkest hour, at the midpoint of the night, we gather to celebrate the Mass of the Nativity at Midnight, a powerful symbol of the power of Christ’s light.
It was during the night that shepherds hear the angels’ message. The sky is illuminated, and heaven’s song breaks out across the dark land. They leave their secluded spot on the hills surrounding Bethlehem to see all that they have heard.
In the book of Wisdom, we read “Your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior.”
The shepherds did not set their sights on a warrior as the world would describe one but this small child who lay in a feeding trough would be the one to liberate Israel, the one to free us from the shadow of death, the darkness, the doom and the gloom.
So let’s not focus too much on the things that we can’t do but rather give thanks for all that we have. Let’s seek the light even in the darkest moment. Jesus was not born into a perfect situation. Perhaps the angel’s message given to Mary and his words “Do not be afraid” were constant companions along her journey, as she grappled with uncertainty and confusion but gave herself wholeheartedly to Jesus her son and her Saviour.
She is filled with love for her child and she knows, even by the arrival of those first visitors, that her child can never be just for her and her alone. The act of loving comes with sacrifice. Already she has made so many sacrifices, and there are many more to come. Love changes everything but it comes at a cost. There will be dark times but Christ is the Morning star, the radiance of eternal light, the sun of justice, who comes to enlighten those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, who enters the doom and the gloom of our lives with the light of his love. So do not be afraid. There is light in lockdown.