O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.
The O Antiphons
Today’s “O Antiphon” recalls for us the prophecy of Zechariah that gets recited each day at Morning Prayer. In Luke 1:78, Zechariah says that “daybreak from on high” will visit us. In the Greek translation of the New Testament, the word used for “daybreak” is used three times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint for the seventy translators) uses this same word to denote a descendent or a branch, terms used to denote the Messiah. And so the implication is clear. This “daybreak from on high” is the Messiah, the one that Zechariah’s son John the Baptist will foreshadow.
In the northern hemisphere the timing of Christmas occurs at the darkest time of the year. Winter begins today. Some parts of the northern hemisphere have no sunlight at all. It is easy to see why lights are such an important part of the Christmas decorations. The darkness which is all around us makes seeing the points of light very easy.
Our sin causes darkness in our life. But rather than leaving us to condemnation, God offers us a tremendous light that shows us the way forward. Jesus is the way forward, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. His Church provides us with faith companions that support us and help us to follow Jesus. Thanks be to God for the radiant life of his dawn!
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a nice explanation of the O Antiphons.
For other Advent resources check out our page for Advent.