In this post, Thomas Smith reflects upon the O Antiphon “O Dawn” from the December 21 daily Mass. You can find his other reflections on the O Anthiphons leading up to Christmas here.
(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”)
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!
As we enter back into Isaiah’s Book of Emmanuel, we hear that in the future, the Lord will send a great light into northern Israel (Isaiah 9:1-2). Have you ever wondered why Jesus began his public ministry in the northern region of Galilee and not in Jerusalem? It’s not accidental that Christ first brings his light to the place his people originally descended into darkness in salvation history (the Northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC). Matthew confirms this connection (Matthew 4:13-16). John’s father Zechariah represents the longing of his people for this coming light. In his Benedictus he looks with expectation for “when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). Imagine the growing joy that Mary and Joseph must have had as they neared the time that this Light would shine forth.
This is only where the light begins. Like the expanding dawn, Christ will declare:
“I am the light of the whole world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12; see also John 12:46).
On Easter morning, Christ will rise in the light of the Resurrection, banishing the darkness of death that had enveloped the world.
While in Galilee, Christ goes beyond simply proclaiming himself the light and says to his followers “YOU are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Once we receive the light of faith, we extend its reach into our circles of influence. Pope Francis puts it well, “Each of us comes to the light because of love, and each of us is called to love in order to remain in the light” (Lumen Fidei 32).
Consider some simple ways you can show the light of Christ’s love to strangers and family alike this season. It can be something as simple as creating a blessing bag filled with toiletries and warm gloves you can share with a homeless person or the gift of a candle to remind someone of Christ’s light. Most importantly, it’s when we share our faith that Christ’s light shines most brightly for others.
As you sit quietly before the Lord, use your imagination to feel the Light of Christ wash over your heart and soul. Let it penetrate the dark corners of your heart and those places in your soul you haven’t welcomed the healing light of Christ.
Tomorrow, December 22, we will reflect on the next O Antiphon, O King of the Nations. Make sure you return to the Ascension Blog tomorrow if you want to read the reflection on the proper day.
The reflection for the previous title in the O Antiphon Series, O Key of David, can be found here.
This post was first published on The Great Adventure Blog on December 21, 2013 and modified on December 14, 2018.
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About Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith is the co-author of Wisdom: God’s Vision for Life, Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and The Prophets: Messengers of God’s Mercy. He is an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website www.gen215.org.