Come, Lord Jesus, Come
Can you remember the excitement of the arrival of a new child to the family? From the moment the expectant parents announce the news, there is a flurry of activity to prepare the room for the new baby: trying out possible names and researching their meaning, going to pre-natal classes, choosing the midwife or medical professional to assist with the birth, baby showers, joy, anxiety, longing…
When was the last time we felt that way about Christmas? We are often swept away by the busyness of this time, the year-end functions, the final meetings for the year before everything closes down for the holidays, battling crowds in shopping malls and elbowing other customers to get that perfect gift or the best piece of gammon.
Names of Jesus
What a contrast! I know that I have more often ended up experiencing the latter, while the longing and expectation of welcoming the Christ Child into my heart and sharing him with others is forgotten.
Last year, I discovered the “O Antiphons”—the antiphons used during Vespers and daily Mass in the last seven days before Christmas. These are seven names for Christ: O Sapienta (Wisdom), O Adonai (Lord), O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Key of David), O Oriens (Morning Star), O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (God is with us).
Each of these seven names, all from Scripture, give us an idea of who Jesus is and how he is both divine as our Lord and King, but he is also God among us, born into a human family — a family with a history, a culture, with its roots in the beauty and frailty of the human condition.
Reflecting on these names for God help me to prepare for Christmas and what it is really about. It is a great feast of thanksgiving and celebration that God wanted to come among us; that he wanted to share our human condition so as to give our existence purpose and meaning.
God wanted to be in our midst so that he could redeem us and restore us into life and relationship with him.
Praying the antiphons in the days before Christmas invites me to slow down and allows me to make my spiritual and physical space ready for Baby Jesus to be born into my heart, just like new parents prepare for the arrival of their child by decorating his or her room and choosing their baby’s name.
Parents-to-be revel in the ultrasound scans, watching how their baby is growing inside its mother’s womb, from a hazy collection of cells and a heartbeat to a clearly recognisable baby with hands and feet, head, gender.
Similarly, the antiphons offer me the experience of getting to know Jesus a little bit more each day leading up to Christmas.
God is Wisdom. There is comfort that in the busy year that has been, with its often incomprehensible events, God’s ways are above our ways and his thoughts above our thoughts. He can see the big picture of our lives and uses human situations to bring about his divine and wise plan.
Jesus, in your wisdom, bring order to my chaos and teach me to act with wisdom and prudence.
Jesus is Lord. He is in the voice in the wind. He is hidden behind the cloud at Sinai and is the mystery of the burning bush. He is the Child whose coming was foretold by prophets, whose birth moved stars across the skies and brought forth choirs of angels.
But the Lord is also a baby, born into human poverty and homelessness in a stable, a human child who feeds at his mother’s breast and is wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Jesus, I want to kneel before your crib and worship you, but I also want to hold you in my arms. Teach me also to embrace and uplift the poor.
Jesus is a descendant of Jesse, father of David. He comes from a line of kings, handpicked by God himself.
Jesus, in a world of bad leaders, be our King. Rule over us with justice, banish poverty and suffering, overcome all ignorance and corruption.
David held the keys to an earthly kingdom, but you hold the keys to the eternal kingdom. Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come.
Jesus is the morning star. He is the hope of nations, the light of a new dawn. He is the light that pierces the darkness of my soul when it is most despondent.
Jesus, Morning Star, light up the path before me, lead me to your manger, and guide me through the labyrinths of my own life.
Jesus is the King of Nations. My kingdom is not of this world, he told Pilate. Not yet. Because we still do not know or recognise God—but one day, all the people will know him and all nations will fall prostrate before him.
Jesus, guide the kings of this world, help them to recognise that their power is not of their own making, but is a gift from you. Help them to be good and just leaders, treating all people with fairness.
Jesus is Emmanuel. He is God with us. God who lives among us. God who shares in our human suffering. God who rejoices in our triumphs and our joys. God who cares for every small detail of my life and the whole of creation.
Lord Jesus, come and live in my heart, in my home, in my workplace, in my parish, in my country and in our world.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.