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O King of Nations

The Fifth Antiphon: Rex Gentium

Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.

"O King of the Gentiles and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one; Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth."

The crown and scepter signify Christ's universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.


Behold I am laying in Zion a precious cornerstone, says God through Isaiah. He is inviting his faithful remnant to put their trust, not in political expediency or earthly power, but to depend on Him alone to save them and rebuild their shattered lives on secure foundations. He is the one underpinning their security, ruling over all attempts to conquer His chosen.

On God alone can the man of clay depend for saving. For man is made in His image, and to the extent that he is alienated from God by sin, he is also alienated from his true self. Deep within he experiences, the desire for holiness and integrity, for the clay bears still the loving impress of the hand that formed it. But clay is coarse and earthbound, weighted down by the gravity of sin, stubbornly resistant to the artist’s design, and the man of clay feels the alienation and fragmentation of his world.

To feel keenly the alienation that comes from my misplaced desire and the misplaced desires of the world around me, this is the special grace of Advent. This can prompt the metanoia, the change of heart which desires redemption. I must face the dereliction and ruin of the places I have tried to build on some foundation other than his power.

For He alone underpins my true self; it cannot stand on anything or anyone else, without being dangerous and illusory. Redemption means the collapse of my pride; the remaking of me wholly to God’s design.

That design is shown in the one who comes. Henceforth the fullness of God’s love dwells within the man of clay, renewing in him the divine image and power. Built on Him alone, I can be filled with the utter fullness of God’s love.

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