A reflection given by one of our sisters on today’s Magnificat Antiphon, which addresses Christ as King. (If you prefer to listen, click the ‘play’ button in the box below).

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“O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone
which makes all one. O come and save us whom you made
from clay.”
 
In this sixth ‘O’ Antiphon the Incarnate Word is given the title of ‘King’, a title which appears very much in the psalms – for example psalm five:
 
‘To my words give ear O Lord,
give heed to my groaning.
Attend to the sound of my cries,
my King and my God.”
And our entrance Antiphon at Mass this morning from psalm 23 read:
“O gates lift high your heads; grow higher, ancient doors.
Let him enter, the King of glory.”
 
Although he was the King desired by all the people of the Old Testament, and  those of the New Testament, we too have within us this same desire, this need, this longing to meet  God, to see Him face to face:
 “ It is your face O Lord that I seek, hide not your face” ( Psalm 26)
St. Irenaeus’ famous saying :
“ The glory of God is man fully alive and the glory of man is the vision of God “ – the second part of this sentence – the glory of man is the vision of God – is usually neglected and certainly has not been given worthy attention for we long and thirst for the vision of God. Perhaps it is only poetry, the poetry of the psalms that can express this desire adequately:
“ O God you are my God, for you I long.
For you my soul is thirsting.
my body pines for you,
 like a dry weary land without water.” ( Psalm 62)
 
Ronald Rolheiser in his book; “The Restless Heart” states that our nature is such that we have within ourselves an unquenchable thirst for God. The human heart, regardless of its time and place in history, regardless of the success or failures it meets, or of the amount of human affection or rejection it experiences, still yearns and pines always to see the face of God, for God has made us in such a way that there is within each of us a certain space, call it an emptiness, a capacity which only God Himself can fill. Sadly, some people, not realising this, try to fill this painful emptiness by using drugs, alcohol,  power, money etc.
But it is as  St. Augustine says: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”- till they rest in God.
All of us are here because we have come to realise that only God can fill our emptiness and so we come into His Presence here, worshipping Him in private prayer, Adoration and in the public prayer of the church,- the celebration of the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours.
Our monastic vocation is a continual search for  God but just when we think we have found him he eludes us, as in the Song of Songs, and we must continue to seek him in a different way. It is t the love of God that compels us to seek deeper and deeper union with Him and with one another as we pray that all humankind, every person on earth, will be touched by the healing love of Christ and be saved. So, we too, all of us can claim to be part of all the people, referred to in today’s ‘O’ Antiphon, who desire the coming of our King, who is also our Saviour and Healer – come and save us whom you made from clay.
The second theme I see in this Antiphon concerns  ecumenism as the second line reads:
“ you are the cornerstone which makes all one”
It brought to my mind Jesus’ prayer for unity in Chapter 17 of John’s Gospel: Verse 21 reads:
          “ May they all be one. Father may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in  you”
            
Just recently I finished reading a book entitled: “Blessed Gabriella of Unity. She was a Trappistine nun, born in Sardinia in 1914, who entered the Monastery of Grottaferrata, Italy, in 1935, when she was 21 years old. Following a lecture on ecumenism by Abbé Paul Couturier, a French Ecumenist, her monastery began to support the week of Prayer for Christian Unity and put its spiritual weight behind the ecumenical movement. Soon after this, Sister Gabriella confided to her superiors that she wanted to offer her life for the unity of the Church as she had come to understand the need for prayers and spiritual sacrifices for the unity of Christians. She was given permission by her superiors. Early in 1938 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died about a year later on April 23rd1939, at the age of 25.
Pope St. John Paul II canonized her on the 25thJanuary 1983, at the end of Church Unity Week- and fittingly so-  and made the following reference to her in his encyclical letter, Ut Unum Sint,( That they be one),  on commitment to ecumenism, under the heading of : The Primacy of Prayer:
“ Sr. Maria Gabriella, called by her vocation to be apart from the world, devoted her life to meditation and prayer centered on Chapter17 of St. John’s Gospel, and offered her life for Christian Unity. This is truly the cornerstone of all prayer: the total and unconditional offering of one’s life to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.”
Pope John Paul II goes on to say that: “ A change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and can rightly be called ‘spiritual ecumenism’.
This touches deeply on our own lives as contemplatives and on those who join us so regularly and faithfully for public prayer in the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours and also for private prayer and Adoration of the Exposed Blessed Sacrament – as prayer is considered the soul of the Ecumenical Movement and a very good example of this is our Benedictine Brothers in Rostrevor – living a deep contemplative life.
Jesus is truly the cornerstone  which makes all one for we  address all our prayer to the Father,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             through through Our Lord Jesus Christ, his Son, in the unity of the Holy  Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.