O Clavis David

Source: District of Asia

The key and scepter are symbols of power and authority. When a sovereign visit one of his cities, the keys of the gates are presented to him; when a pastor is inducted into a parish, the keys of the church are handed to him. In the Apocalypse Jesus is called "the Holy One, the True One, he that hath the key of David: He that openeth, and no man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man openeth" (Ap. 37). We know that though the Messiah has the key of David the gates of Bethlehem remain closed to Him and He will have to seek shelter in a cave by the roadside.

Petition: That we may discover Him in His weakness, believe in His power and open our soul to Him.

I. O Key of David

"O Key of David and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who openest so that no man can shut again and shuttest so that none open..." God had commanded King Ezechias to yield his throne to his chief minister: "And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut: he shall shut, and none shall open" (Is. 22:22). We have here a prophetic symbol of the Messiah, the Son of God, who at the hands of His Father receives supreme power over His Father's house and kingdom. He that holds the keys goes in and out as he pleases, admits and excludes whomsoever he chooses, imprisons and releases as he deems fit: he is absolute master and disposes of whatever is in the house.

Thus, endowed with full power Christ comes to deliver us: mankind lay in the power of Satan and could not by its own strength regain its liberty. Out of love and mercy the Father sent His own Son to throw open the gates of our dungeon. The Evil One will strive hard to prevent Him and will manage in the end to have Him nailed to the Cross but the very Cross destroys Satan's rule and sets the captives free. "Christ openeth and no man shutteth."

That power Christ manifested eminently on behalf of one: His Mother. He opened her soul to grace, and no one shut it; He shut her soul to the Evil One and none opened it. She was conceived immaculate; she was full of grace.

Although He has the key and is almighty, He will not impose Himself by force on those He has endowed with free-will. In the same chapter of the Apocalypse, we hear the Holy One, the True One, He that hath the key of David saying to us, "Behold, I stand at the gate and knock. If any man shall hear my voice and open to me the door, I will come into him and will sup with him; and he with me" (Ap. 3:20). His knock is gentle and His call a soft whisper they take the forms of mute reproaches for our acts of cowardice, of unobtrusive invitations to greater generosity . . . all of them manifestations of the omnipotent Love that treats us with consideration. God grant that we be not among those who "were His own and received Him not", that we listen to His voice, open the door to Him and may sup with Him!

God forbid that the fate of the foolish virgins overtakes us too! By their thoughtlessness they forfeited their privilege and found the doors locked. "He shutteth and no one openeth."

He is also "the sceptre of the House of Israel". He not merely unlocks the gates of the dungeon; He then leads forth those He has delivered. He is "the good shepherd" who leads us out on the road to Life and who Himself is "the Way, the Truth and the Life".

One day we shall hear Him claim, "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth" (Mt. 28:18); we are now awaiting our Deliverer and Leader.

II. Come and Deliver from this Prison the Captive That Sitteth in Darkness and the Shadow of Death

This ancient figure of speech, which may have become trite to us, does express correctly our utter misery. In every man's heart there burns a fierce desire for freedom, for light, for life - for the true liberty of the children of God, wherein he was created but which he lost by his rebellion against God; his will is fettered, he languishes in a dark dungeon-in the shadow of death, and he longs for the light of true Life.

How many spiritual captives there are, who are crying for freedom! How many spiritually blind, who wander in darkness! But most deserving of compassion are those - and they are millions-who are not even aware of the deformities of their souls, not conscious of their extreme spiritual distress and who, consequently, have no desire to be made whole, and do not call out for a Rescuer! For these last in particular we ought to pray for they are our brethren destined, as we are, to eternal bliss. May God, who "wills all men to be saved," touch their hearts with His all-penetrating grace, and bestow on them the Light that sets them free!

And we ourselves as well-let us not overlook it! - we, the Lord's privileged children, are in need of more freedom and lighter on the road to Life and to perfection.

Prayer: Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who by reason of the old bondage are held down under the yoke of sin, may be delivered by the long desired advent of Thine only-begotten Son, who with Thee... (Oration of Saturday in Ember Week.)

O God, whose will it is that all men be saved and come to know Thy truth: send forth, we beseech Thee, labourers into Thy harvest and give them to speak Thy word with all trust, that Thy Gospel may spread and be known, and all nations may recognise Thee, the one true God, and Him whom Thou hast sent, Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord (Collect, Mass for the Propagation of Faith).