O key of David – how often do we think of the freedom our house keys give us?
Here are the ‘O Antiphons’ shared by Fr Valentine Erhanon, and below, his homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent. Fr Valentine is the parish priest of Saints Simon and Jude, Streatham Hill, London.
Saturday December 17
O Sapientia [O Wisdom]
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
Sunday December 18
O Adonai [O Lord and Ruler]
O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
Monday December 19
O Radix Jesse [O Root of Jesse]
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
Tuesday December 20
O Clavis David [O Key of David]
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
Wednesday December 21
O Oriens [O Rising Dawn or Morning Star]
O Radiant Dawn, splendour of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Thursday December 22
O Rex Gentium [O King of the Nations]
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
Friday December 23 – Mass at 9am
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
Homily for the Third Week of Advent,
17/18 December 2022 by Father Valentine Erhahon
First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23 (24); Second Reading: Romans: 1:1-7; Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24
Finally, what is going to happen …
For the past four weeks, we have starved ourselves from saying/singing the Gloria at Mass. Over two billion Catholics have
deliberately deprived themselves of singing those words of the Angels that we hear at Mass every time and have gotten so
used to. The intensity of this abstinence is growing in our hearts. We are longing, yearning and waiting to sing the Gloria for
the very first time on Christmas Eve, on the 24th of December, first at the Children’s Mass at 5.30 pm and then at the Solemn
Mass at 10 pm.
We will join millions of other Catholic Churches from Shanghai to Abu Dhabi from Panama to Benin City; from Kansas to
Kerala, from every part of the continent right to London, to Streatham Hill, anywhere the Catholic Church is: in chapels in
villages, in palaces, and cities, in small towns, in grand cathedrals or humble churches, on this most solemn of nights, the
Gloria, the Glory to God in the Highest will resound – in our Churches. What great joy! As tradition demands, all the Altar
Servers will ring all our bells, as we cry out joyfully to God in the Gloria. One by one, our Altar Servers will light the six ancient
candles you have been looking at in the sanctuary wondering when they would be lit. Read Revelation 1:12ff to discover the
significance of these candles. You will notice in the book of Revelation there are Seven candlesticks – look out of the last one
on the sanctuary: He is the word of God and the light that shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
Our two parish Angels: Cherubim and Seraphim, have now left their station where you normally see them guarding the Holy
of Holies in our Tabernacle. They too have come down to welcome the arrival of the Godchild and keep guard next to Him.
You will also notice that in our lectern the four creatures in Revelation 4: 6-8 are now displayed: each representing the four
gospels: Matthew: the winged man; Mark: the Lion; Luke: the Ox; John: the Eagle.
You will also notice that we have brought out the Joseph’s baby wooden chair, made for the Word of God; and on it: our
newborn King – the Word of God – will seat on it – in his manger on Christmas Eve: O Come, Let us Adore Him Christ the Lord.
The Book of the Gospel is already opened in Joseph’s baby wooden chair to the very page of the Gospel of the night.
Before then, of course, we have the first of the three Great Processions of the night, with the ancient chant that recounts the
history of our salvation – informing us of how in the fullness of time, God himself decided to intervene in human history by
bringing forth his son, born of a woman to save us. Next will be the second Great Procession where the infant King will come
into his Church. I will not put into words what this would feel like because it will lose the value of its significance and
meaning. It is meant to be experienced. The Third procession of course will be at the end of Mass when with lit candles we
will make our procession to the Nativity Grotto. Arriving at His Grotto on this most Solemn and Holy night, which many on
Streatham Hill have been visiting each day, I will bless the Grotto – the Stable – the Manger and our Lord and God will spend
the night in his stable in the cold. On Christmas Day, He will return to the Church – where we will adore Him and celebrate His
CHRIST – MAS.
Every day from Christmas Eve until the end of Christmastide, our Lord will stay in His Grotto facing the streets
of Hillside road, giving hope to all. During Mass, He will return to His Church to bless us. We remember though: that while our
Grotto may look nice and pretty, Jesus will be sleeping in the cold like many homeless people. Instead of being in a hospital
bed or a nice room, he will smell animals, straws and hay on his first night in this world as a baby. There is no warmth in the
manger, no proper safety from harm or infection. We remember when they arrived in Bethlehem for the census, Mary and
Joseph could not find a home to rent. No one could let them into their home. We remember, in pain, hardship and poverty,
our God came into the world to save us, but no one opened their door to the Holy Family. Would we have let Mary and Jesus
into our homes that night for Jesus to be born in our home? Do we let him into our hearts today? Do we have time for Jesus?
Do we allow Jesus into our thinking process and our decision-making in our personal and daily lives? Or like he first
experienced on the night of his birth, we have closed the door and have no space in our lives to accommodate him, so we
send him away out, back into the cold because our lives are full of ourselves; we are distracted; conflicted; unable to commit.
I will come back to this discussion in my homily on Christmas Eve when we will see all those who make up Jesus’s ancestry.
For now, we begin our last countdown to Christmas with the 0 Antiphons. To prepare for Christmas in a few day’s time: today – one by one, the Altar Servers, and then the children will place their Roses of Thanksgiving in the manger to thank Saint Joseph for doing the will of God, by taking Mary into his homes. Today our Mother Mary is heavily pregnant, she is on a donkey with Joseph who is protecting and looking after her; it is cold and windy outside. Today they are approaching Bethlehem. Join them on this procession of doing God’s will, and go behind them to offer them support. Walk with them. Together as a parish community, we are going to Bethlehem to adore the Infant King on Christmas Eve and to present our very self as a present to him for his birthday so that he can transform us to become truly like him in the Great exchange of Gifts on Christmas Day – between God and humans, between Love and love.