O, King of Nations

“O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (O Antiphon for Dec 22nd)

I find the notion expressed in today’s antiphon the most difficult to see my way clear to. The others all seem to allow a kind of “religious” perspective to them. I don’t mean by that to contrast the obvious political character of today’s idea against “religion” as a non-political aspect of life – nothing could be further from the truth. I do not see how political life can be lived apart from religion, and political approaches that intend to marginalize religion cannot suppress “religion” itself, but only religious virtues and particular religious character – leaving an impoverished shell in place that is not non-religion, but a caricature of religion, set in the service of the prevailing ideology. No society is possible without some kind of shared framework of values and belief.

Instead, what I mean by “religious perspective” is almost the same thing as saying they have a political perspective. What I mean is that they can be viewed as particular, in some way, to a people who are not whomever they are not. What I mean is that there are ways to see them in a less-than-catholic light. That’s simply not the case with the antiphon today.

In proclaiming Christ “King of all the nations,” there is only an “us” to be found – there is no “them.” In this view, there is really only one relationship of complete otherness, and that is the relationship between God and His People, and even that is transcended in Christ, as we explicitly celebrate in tomorrow’s antiphon.