One of the most memorable moments in my college days (which were pretty straightforward since I was a novice in a religious community) was a breakthrough in understanding. Other novices and I were in the midst of an Introduction to Philosophy class taught by a very poor teacher. The novice director, having a sense of our struggle, gave an unheard of permission for the five of us to stay up after the night silence and study together. She knew that the brightest among us would be able to help. I don’t remember the content but I do recall the amazing moment when the light went on for me as a result of Sr. Susan Elizabeth finding the right key to open my mind to the content that had escaped me. I don’t imagine that we had complained to our novice director about the professor or the class; novices generally didn’t do that. Somehow, though, Sister Elizabeth Thomas always knew what was going on without our input. I count that night as an example of her wisdom in setting aside a rule for a greater good.
I love the first reading for this morning (Is. 7:10-14) as it points up how much God is willing to help us and I imagine it as a bit of a comedic dialogue. I have to quote the whole text to show the significance.
The Lord said to Ahaz, “Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world or high as the sky!” But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!” Then Isaiah said, “Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God? The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
All those exclamation points indicate an excited conversation. It’s as if someone has a great surprise to share and keeps saying, “Ask me what I know! Go ahead! Ask!” and I say, “Nah, not interested.” or “You’d better tell someone else; I’m not the person you should tell.” The frustration of the teller is, of course, that the information is great news for you! It may even be the key that opens the door to a whole new future for you!
All of the above may seem like a roundabout way to get to today’s O Antiphon, but it all works for me. O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal kingdom: come and free the prisoners from darkness! Whatever our prison – be it of the mind or spirit – Christ is longing to come and free us from it. All we need do is ask. The door will then be open in invitation to live in the heart of Christ – the place from which all darkness turns to light.