There’s a little more light today. As we get toward these last days of Advent, we find ourselves in a time when more light is beginning to shine. All of the candles on our Advent wreath are lit, and the only thing that can make it brighter is the coming of our God in all his glory, dawning brightly on the earth.
Today’s “O Antiphon” tells us as much. Today we hear “O Radiant Dawn,” and the antiphon for Evening prayer is this: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
This light is the source of the joy of which Zephaniah the prophet speaks today. He tells the broken people Israel that God has forgiven their sins, and that he continues to walk among them, which should be cause enough to remove their fear. That enduring presence among the people Israel, of course, is a foretaste of the enduring presence that we experience in the Incarnation of Christ.
Mary and Elizabeth celebrate that light in today’s Gospel. Mary’s greeting of Elizabeth is an act of hospitality, and Elizabeth’s welcome, along with the Baptist’s reaction in his mother’s womb, is an act of faith. That faith incredibly affected the salvation of the whole world.
And all of this light continues to shine on our sometimes-dark world. A world grown dark and cold in sin is visited by its creator, and that world is changed forever. The darkness can never now be permanent. Sin and death no longer have the last word for us, because that was never God’s will for us. We have hope for eternal life because our God eagerly desires us to return to him and be one with him.
And so we pray, Come, O Radiant Dawn, shatter the darkness that sometimes reigns in our cynical world. Give us the warmth of your light to warm our hearts grown cold with sin. Shine on all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly and do not delay!