O Key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again, what you close no one can open, O come and lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

This ‘O Antiphon’ that the Church sings this evening at the Magnificat, has its roots like all the other Antiphons in sacred scripture, in this case in Isaiah chapter 22 and in Luke chapter I.
Our Lord is addressed as Key of David – Jesus is Son of David through his foster father, St Joseph, who was of the house of David.  David was the most beloved and important King in Israel’s history – “a man after the Lord’s own heart” as it says in the Acts of the Apostles.  So Jesus in his human ancestry is truly one of us as he is truly Son of God in his divine nature “conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy spirit. (Mt Ch 1)
A key is an indispensable instrument for opening and closing a door, so it is a very appropriate symbol with which to address our awaited Saviour. The Babe of Bethlehem, whom we await, did not die because he was born but He was born in order to die – the Crib and the Cross are closely associated.  By His obedience in suffering His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of heaven for the whole human race which our first parents had closed by their disobedience.  There is a lovely Icon called ‘the harrowing of hell’ where Jesus on Holy Saturday is seen in His descent into hell and taking  both Adam and Eve by the hand raised them up to come with Him into His Father’s House and all their posterity after them.
After that liberation is there any prison, darkness or death from which Jesus cannot free us? Yet we need another key – the key of faith which we receive at our Baptism to help us lay hold of the blessings Jesus is offering.  We join Bartimaeus, the blind man, at the side of the road, who, when he heard that Jesus, the Nazarene, was passing by, cried out: ‘Jesus, Son of David have  pity on me (cf Lk Ch 18).  We do it, not only in our own name but in the name of all who are captive in any way, in darkness and the shadow of death.  May we too, hear Jesus’ response: “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.”