Thursday, December 20, 2007

December 20: O Key of David

O come, thou Key of David, come, and open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high, and close the path to misery.
The Hymnal 1982

O Key of David, O royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
And lead your captive people into freedom.

Good news; but if you ask me what it is, I know not;
It is a track of feet in the snow.
It is a lantern showing a path,
It is a door set open.
G. K. Chesterton

The image of the Key of David comes from Isaiah 22:22, which is repeated in Revelation 3:7.

For me, this is the most Easter of the O antiphons, because it reminds me of the powerful Orthodox Easter image of Christ dancing on the broken doors of Hell, lifting Adam and Eve to new life. The truth we Christians proclaim is that David’s descendant has opened the gate. Hell as a place of eternity is no more (although it perhaps can be chosen—see the image of a “second death” in Revelation). This is the ultimate in that of which the antiphon speaks, “lead your captive people into freedom.”

Today is a day to rejoice in our freedom from the threat of eternal death and Hell. The prison walls have been broken, the shadow of death is not eternal, the gate of Hell has been destroyed and the gate of heaven opened.

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