Our 7thand final ‘O Antiphon’ tonight reads:

O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge,

                                       the one whom the peoples await and their Saviour.

                                       O come and save us, Lord our God.

 
The meaning of ‘Emmanuel’ is “God with us”. In a way it anticipates the nativity, the birth of our Lord, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, which we will celebrate, tomorrow night.

Knowing that God is with us gives us inner security, peace, joy, delight, hope – as St Paulsays:

 “With God on our side, who can be against us” ( Rm 8 :31) and “ It is in him that we live and move and have our being” ( Acts 17:28).

Having been made in the image and likeness of God we have a natural capacity for God and the things of God. We experience a profound yearning for him, just as the prophets and people of the Old testament yearned, longed for and awaited the coming of the Messiah,  for the search for God and the desire to be in relationship with him is rooted in our human nature and the psalms testify to this so beautifully: 

“O God you are my God, for you I long

For you my soul is thirsting” (Psalm 62)

and 

“I say to the Lord, you are my God,

my happiness lies in you alone.”

and

“What else have I in Heaven but you,

apart from you I want nothing on earth”

It seems to me that this antiphon is prayed with great humility, teaching us about this great and difficult virtue. Humility is truth. In this antiphon the people recognise and acknowledge their inability to save themselves for they cry out for a Saviour. We, too, continue this cry for we also, are in constant need of the Lord’s grace to live the Christian life, -“cut off from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5)– the words of Jesus in St. John’s Gospel. This in fact is Good News for the Lord is more ready and willing to bestow on us this grace than we, in our innate pride, independence and individualism are prepared to ask for it.

This is portrayed by Pope Francis, in a recent address: he says:

“At Christmas God gives us all of Himself by giving his one and only Son, who is all his joy – Jesus – the gift of gifts – the undeserved gift that brings us salvation”

 
That final plea, “O come and save us, Lord our God”, sums up all the preceding petitions of the other O antiphons. It is a cry from the heart of the Church, and since the Church prays not only for herself but for the whole world, it is also a cry from the heart of all humanity. As we pray this antiphon in a few minutes we are called to pray it from the depths of our own hearts, in humility of spirit, in the name of all humanity and for all humanity- conscious as we are of the suffering in the world- in Syria, Iraq, Africa, the Holy Land, India, Pakistan and for the renewal of faith in our own country and in the home countries of all our sisters: England; Scotland; Malta; France; Belarus and Korea.

O come and save us, Lord our God.