In this post, Thomas Smith reflects upon the O Antiphon “King of the Nations” from the December 22 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, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
and be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!
As Mary and Joseph huddled in the cave of Bethlehem, it may have been hard to believe they had just brought the King of the Nations into the world. And yet, Isaiah had declared that a virgin would conceive and bear a saving son (Isaiah 7:14) and later:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’” (Isaiah 9:5).
With the coming King comes a vibrant and growing kingdom. Every time we pray the Our Father, we make a request that this kingdom will come. Rather than exclusively pointing to the coming of Christ’s kingdom at the end of time, this petition is the work of the Church, the mission of each of us. We make his kingdom come every time we share the gospel, protect and defend the unborn, forgotten, and abandoned. We make his kingdom come every time we inject gospel values into our conversations with our neighbors over the fence or with our elected officials in the public square.
At the heart of the missionary message given to all of us to proclaim is “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 10:7). Literally, it is within everyone’s reach. I love how Pope Francis put it in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium:
“To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world” (EG176).
It is likely that you have already purchased most of your Christmas gifts this season. Consider giving the gift of your faith in the form of a letter to friends and family. Share with them how your faith gives your life meaning, how the sacraments have nourished your life, why you are Catholic. For many of them, this gift will be a treasured possession they can read again and again. Faith is a gift, but never a private possession. By its very nature, it is made to be given away.
Take a moment to sit at the feet of the Desire of the Nations, the Prince of Peace, the King of All. Make Pope Francis’s petition to Mary your own, “Virgin of listening and contemplation, Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast, pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are, that she may never be closed in on herself or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.” – Evangelii Gaudium, para. 288.
Tomorrow, December 23, we will reflect on the next and final O Antiphon, O Emmanuel. 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 Dawn, can be found here.
This post was first published on The Great Adventure Blog on December 22, 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.