“O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (O Antiphon for Dec. 20th)
The antiphon today focuses on the authority of Christ:
The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens Revelation 3:7 (HCSB)
No small part of a genuine faith in Christ must be in the hope that His authority is real and actual. It’s not entirely evident that such is the case. We proclaim Him King (not just King-elect), and we know His law well enough, yet it is abundantly clear that He is not calling the shots in this world on a day-to-day basis – or at least that few people pay Him much heed.
It will not suffice to say that His time of authority within the historical sphere is yet to come, for the Gospel tells us plainly that He delegated His authority, to Peter (cf Mt 16:19), precisely for the sake of being exercised “on earth,” within history. Yet, even many Christians do not recognize that authority in Peter, insofar as the Petrine authority continues to be delegated down through the generations in history. Protests that the delegation of authority was intended to be less personal and more broadly apostolic are empty, because – even if this were true – were every bishop in the world to speak with one voice, the world would still yawn – along with many self-styled Christians, Catholic or otherwise.
The fact remains that the manifestation of Christ’s authority, delegated or not, seems far off. It is this manifestation that we pray for when we say “Come, Lord.” But we should not be so naive as to think that the judgment executed at His coming will be as indifferent to justice as is the contemporary scene which ignores His authority (delegated or not). And if that is true, then should we be so eager for His coming? For whether we are prepared for judgment ourselves or not, should we be so indifferent to the judgment of others as to seek the coming of the Lord in times which are so notoriously unjust and indifferent to Christ’s Lordship?