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From the distance, they watched a bloodied pulp, two-inch thorns squashed into his head, lugging a crossbeam over his shoulder, its end zigzagging a dusty trail up a steep hill. Hecklers, spitters, and garbage throwers, exacerbated the mayhem. Spiteful crows cawed, circling above the coming feast.

There were women watching, a handful as far as we know, their veiled heads shielding the noon sun, their dark eyes stinging with dry pain, their revulsion provoking gags. Perhaps men stood further away and gripped their guts.

Today, others are also watching—not just a handful but the planet Earth: you and me, our neighbors, everyone feels the atrocities meted upon the Ukrainians, people like ourselves wanting a peaceful, productive life. Such watching bores deep trenches of psychic powerlessness, of frenzy toward the Evil threats lobed upon us, in the fourth week of conflict.

Like those watching the Man of Sorrows on that barren hillside—He has been there—prayer permeated their angst. So not to lose heart …  

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,

the hope of the nations and their Savior:

Come and save us, O Lord our God.

On December 23, 2021, the seventh and final O Antiphon climaxes these pleas for deliverance. As if to augment Yahweh’s power even more, previously used Messianic titles are added to Emmanuel, found in Isaiah 7:14.  

Emmanuel, a prophetic name meaning God-with-us, first appeared in the prophecy of Isaiah, 736 BCE, when enemies of the Judean King Ahaz sought to destroy Jerusalem…the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel—A mysterious prophecy that still seizes the imaginations of believers, an intimacy that whispers in all life forms.

Yet, how access this power to waylay enemies, wherever discovered? Evil is real; ancient Israelites as well as ourselves have always needed guidance and protection.  On our own, this is impossible.

Again, the imperatives, Come and save us, conclude this O Antiphon and prepare us for the celebration of the full Christmas mysteries.

Indeed, God is intimately with us—that never changes.

O King of all Nations
And Keystone of the Church:
Come and Save Us
Whom you Formed from the Dust.

The sixth O Antiphon, December 22, 2021, implores the Christ as the King of all peoples and law-giver to recreate, anew, what was begun in the Genesis story of creation, 2:7.
Despite the rent of the first sin with its attendant sufferings and pain, Creator God took compassion upon the work of his hands and sent helpers: the patriarchs, the prophets, even kings to assuage the demands of His Chosen People who wanted to be like their grandiose neighbors. Still sin held sway over hearts, and within its moral darkness, followed periodic destruction and mayhem and exile by the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.
Even His son, Jesus of Nazareth was sent. Still to no avail: eyes remain blind, ears, stopped. Most of the heart of mankind remains locked in stone.
Yet, a remnant of the faithful, the anawim, the little people with humble hearts have always remained through the tattered world. Among them, the Christ mysteries are vibrantly alive in prayer and gladdens their hearts of flesh.
With them, we still cry out,”Come!”

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