O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

What does it mean to be the sun of justice? What do the rays of such a sun look like? What sort of warmth do such rays feel like on the skin of those who dwell in darkness?

Like the rest of the O Antiphons, today’s line is rooted in the prophecy of Isaiah, who once proclaimed: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” (Is 9:1) This light is not simply a touchy-feely glow or a fluffy sense of the spiritual, but is a deeply rich and powerful sign of God’s embrace of powerless, marginalized and forgotten.

Who are the ones who live in today’s darkness? These are the ones to whom the Good News of Christ’s coming is directed. The Advent, the hopeful-waiting of this season is the anticipatory sense that justice and peace are on the way. With the birth of Christ comes the decisive revelation of God’s reign. As Mary brought Christ to birth to fulfill the prophecy of Emanuel — God with us — so too we are called to bring Christ to birth today, and everyday.

We bring Christ to birth when we reflect those rays of justice that shine on those who live in the darkness of our society and world. We bring Christ to birth when those most marginalized by cultural intolerance, hatred and discrimination are welcomed into the warmth of God’s eternal light. We bring Christ to birth when no one is excluded from the table of thanksgiving, the community of faith or access to all societal rights. We bring Christ to birth when we embrace others as Christ did — with love, peace and justice.

It’s not easy and at times it is messy, but we can rest assured that we will be strengthened by the prophetic “solar power” of the radiant dawn’s justice in our hearts.

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