O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
For the second time in a week, we find ourselves having to deal with an image of God that has gone out of fashion in recent years, the Lord of might. Especially this time of year, we tend to want to picture Jesus as the meek and mild sort.
But if the Scriptural tradition is clear on anything, God is far from meek and mild. Sure, he shows up for Elijah in the form of a still, soft voice, but elsewhere God is imaged as a pillar of fire and a cloud of smoke. God commands the Hebrews to destroy every man, woman, and child they encounter on their way into the promised land and he rains down fire upon the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. He’s even described as being jealous and uses Israel’s enemies to teach them a lesson or 10.
Yet all of this power and might is for a purpose: it is to lead us to the Kingdom. Like a parent punishing a child, God uses might to attempt to bring his people back in to line. More often than not, it wasn’t actual might that was used, but rather the awe and fear that was ingrained in His chosen people that did the trick. Like the example in the verse of Veni, Veni, God’s might was framed in cloud, majesty and awe, calling his people to follow his lead toward the Kingdom. It didn’t always work out well: for the people of Israel, for us, or for God, quite frankly, but the goal was always calling them all forward in relationship.
Ultimately, that power was made manifest in the most vulnerable of beings – a newborn child. God joined history to redeem it and to redeem us, but more on that in tomorrow’s antiphon.