O Adonai

Source: District of Asia

Adonai is one of the Hebrew names of God; it signifies "the Lord", Here the name is specially applied to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, whom we are in the habit of calling "our Lord". In this antiphon we appeal to Him as our powerful Leader.

Petition: The grace of acknowledging Jesus as our Leader, and of following Him wheresoever He may call. The "Lord ruleth me, and I shall want nothing" (Ps. 221).

I. "O Lord and Ruler"

"O Lord and Ruler of the House of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and didst give him the Law on Mount Sinai."

Moses is one of the types of the Redeemer. He was appointed by God to deliver Israel, His Chosen People, from the slavery of Egypt. God's strong, chastising hand compelled the Pharaoh to let the Jews depart. In this exodus Moses was the leader: in the Lord's name he led Israel through the desert into the Promised Land. In those days God used to manifest Himself to the Jews amidst a grand display of terrifying power. He came down on the top of the mountain and anyone who came near the mountain-except Moses himself would be struck dead. Amidst thunder and lightning He delivered His Law to Moses; He slaked the people's thirst in the wilderness with water that gushed from the rock and fed them with manna from heaven.

The new Leader will adopt quite a different way of approach, though points of resemblance are not lacking. He becomes Son of man and draws us to Himself "with the cords of Adam, with the bands of love" (Os. 11:4). To touch Him is to be healed; seated on the mountainside surrounded by the multitudes, He speaks a language of love and proclaims the Beatitudes. He is the good shepherd, who knows His sheep and lays down His life for them (Jn. 10:14, 15).

He is, as St Ignatius calls Him, "the true Leader to the true Life," in great stillness He descended into a Virgin's womb; from out of that burning bush yet unburnt (in which the Liturgy sees a symbol of Mary's untarnished virginity) He shall appear as "the child that is born to us, the son that is given to us".

O Lord and Ruler, who in the womb of Mary immaculate didst become man, we long for Thy coming, and we greet Thee in the womb of her from whom Thou shalt be born.

II. Petition

"Come and redeem us with Thy uplifted arm." "With uplifted arm": this is the usual figure in Scripture to express God's power. He commands, He strikes, He protects...

God's son has been sent, not to chastise, but to deliver us; and His arm "is not shortened" (Is. 59:1). He will work greater wonders than in the days of Moses, not in as spectacular a manner as under the Old Covenant, but in a manner that manifests greater power over created beings and an incomprehensibly merciful love. He will "lift up His arm" not to smite but to heal, to touch the blind and the leper, to raise up the lame and cure them of their infirmities, to command the wind and the sea, and to feed the hungry with bread. And in the end, He will lift both arms onto the Cross in His most powerful gesture, which will put to rout the "prince of the world" and set us free.

Are not His Sacraments - Baptism, Penance, Holy Communion - liftings up' of our Blessed Lord's arm to cleanse us through His priests of all our loathsome diseases and feed us with the true Manna from heaven?

To be set free continues to be a great need of man: how often in liturgical orations do we not beseech God that we may serve Him with a free mind and a free heart, that His healing grace may free us from the snares of our perverse inclinations, i.e., our half-heartedness, our petty selfishness, our worldliness, our lack of trust?

"Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come to our assistance with Thy great power: so that, by the help of Thy grace that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest..." (Collect, 4th Sunday of Advent).

And let us pray for the "Church of Silence", where our imprisoned and persecuted brethren, priests, religious and lay people, are longing for deliverance. How meaningful the prayers of Advent sound in their hearts: "Come and deliver us, O Lord; do no longer delay! Set us free with Thy uplifted arm!"

Prayer to Mary: Holy Mother of God, thou didst one day praise God because "He hath showed might in His arm and scattered the proud in the conceit of their hearts": be pleased to intercede for us with thy divine Son. Hasten to the help of the people that are faltering but would fain rise up again.