Oh! I thought to myself as I read kind, reasoned words, cautioning against alienating our immigrant neighbors who contribute so much to our community.
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
Oh, I groaned, at the latest news of unethical and incompetent political leadership.
O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!
Oh, I marveled, as I watched one of my sisters gently lead another, weaker member of the community to her place in choir.
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all people: come to save us without delay!
Oh, a friend pondered, as he recognized the magnitude of the work needed to free himself from the soul-destroying prison of privileged white maleness.
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
Oh! My sister exclaimed as she shared news of the serious illness of a beloved relative.
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.
Oh! I cried, overcome by the impact of human arrogance and greed on the abuse of Earth.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save us, whom you formed from the dust!
Oh! I pondered, as I realized the impact of tax reform legislation on the most vulnerable members of our community.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel (God-among-us) shall come to thee, O Israel.
Starting December 17 every year these seven verses, the inspiration for the Christmas hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel—will be prayed by my Dominican Sisters and in every convent and monastery in the world, as we anticipate the joy of Christmas. I’m told that the original Latin of these “O Antiphons” creates an acrostic which spells out “Tomorrow I will be.” Given that the antiphons end on Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 is Christmas Eve, that’s a pretty neat trick!
We don’t have to wait for tomorrow, though. Watch today for the way God comes into your life! In the neighbor who greets you on her way to work; in the postal carrier who takes a moment with your child when he inquires about that letter to Santa; in the Muslim coworker who takes your holiday shift; in the kind words of the caregiver who, next to you, may be the one to miss your deceased loved one the most.
God comes…when you say no to your self-interest for the benefit of the common good…when your fear doesn’t stop you from serving the need of a stranger on the street…when you say yes to the pastor who needs your financial resources to support a family whose home burned in a fire.
God comes every day. We only need to pay attention. Oh!
This column first appeared in the State Journal-Register on Dec. 17, 2017. Sister Beth Murphy, OP, is the communication director for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield.