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Divine Office Reflections | Monday in the Fourth Week of Advent

O Oriens

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

In the Gospel of St John we read, “the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light.”

We all know the story of the Magi. Bearing gifts, these star gazers from the East left everything to follow The Star, that they might bow down and worship before the luminous babe lying in a manger. Herod, on the other hand, when he learned of the Christ child, slaughtered innocent children in search of him who was rumored to be the king of the nations.

Today’s O Antiphon resounds with great hope that at last the radiant dawn, the splendor of eternal light, the sun of justice was about to come. And yet the events surrounding the Lord’s Nativity remind us that, when the light did come, it was not welcomed by all.

We all have Magi within our hearts. But we all have Herod as well. We love the light and welcome it under certain conditions. But when the light exposes our sin, or shines on those areas of our lives that have yet to be surrendered to God, we do everything we can to return and take shelter in the darkness of ignorance.

The truth is that before we can ever receive the inexhaustible and unfathomable mystery of Christmas, we must in faith arise from the darkness of ignorance and allow the light of Christ to consume that which keeps us in the shadow of death. Like the Magi, we must be willing to leave everything and pledge our loyalty to the One who alone can satisfy the desires of our hearts.

In these last days of Advent, let us beg the Lord to "bring to light what is hidden in darkness" and "manifest the motives of our hearts" (Reading, Evening Prayer), so that we might repent of our love of darkness and ignorance and receive in faith the splendor of eternal light which gives joy to every human heart.

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