O Emmanuel

Daily Reading for December 22

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and the Savior of them all: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

When we pray, O come, O come Emmanuel, we are asking that God will indeed come to us in human flesh, that Christ’s incarnation will be made real for us. This is a petition of hope and for deliverance. It is a prayer that, had God not made the first move toward us, we would not be able to utter. God does not remain distant from us, but actually enters into our joys and sufferings. In the words of a popular Christmas carol, “And he feeleth for our sadness, And he shareth in our gladness. . . .”

Rather than ask why the innocent suffer or where God is when there is suffering, we need to ask ourselves how it is that we cause the innocent to suffer and what we can do to alleviate suffering. How much can we share of our own brokenness so that someone else can endure the otherwise unendurable? The way people know God is through us—we are here to make God’s kingdom known to other people.

And it is only because Christ is Emmanuel—God with us—that Israel, and in fact all of us, are able to rejoice! It is when Christ comes as Emmanuel that the importance, vocation and dignity of every person will be restored.

O God with us,


whose law and life and rule are love;

You are, in fact, our only hope.

Greed and injustice

in the justice of the nations

discover us deep into poverty,

starvation, corruption and war.

And into our homes sneak silent abuse

and assault,

incest and injury—

a polite and private life of poverty,

starvation, corruption and war.

Make no mistake—we

don’t know the slightest

what we’re asking you: to be saved

will be a costly bargain—

and one we hadn’t rully reasoned on or planned.


you are our only hope,

O God with us,


From Hasten the Kingdom: Praying the O Antiphons of Advent by Mary Winifred, C.A. (Liturgical Press, 1996).

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