It was only a couple of years ago that I was introduced to the “O Antiphons,” which are part of Evening Prayer in the days leading up to Christmas. All of them call on Christ to come; each uses a different name of his based in the Old Testament prophecies. Here is today’s:
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
Stones and dust—now these are familiar to a momma of boys! (Not to deny my girls their dirt-tracking-in abilities, which are substantial . . . but those boys!) Glancing at some of the other O Antiphons, this paring struck me as strange at first. I mean, I understand asking the “Key of David” to set prisoners free, or “Wisdom” to teach us the path of knowledge. But the Keystone? Dust?
Yet on second look, it seems totally appropriate. The keystone is the specially shaped stone at the top of an arch which holds the whole thing up, just as Christ is the glue binding the Church together.
Christ the Keystone humbled himself to become man — the stone became dust — so that we might join him in Heaven.
It is humbling to be reminded that I am made of that grey powder I’m constantly banishing from the bookshelves and mantle. I am dust, and it’s only God’s love that is keeping me in one piece. But more humbling yet is the thought that God himself was willing to put on this messy, disorderly flesh for my sake, for my children’s sake, for my friends’ (and enemies’!) sakes. It’s a comfort to me to know that Jesus did this human thing, too. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin (Heb 4:15). If I’m frustrated, he knows that feeling. If I’m mourning or in pain, he knows that feeling, too. Whatever I may be up against, whether I’m joyful, sorrowful, or simply overwhelmed, Jesus can relate because he lived it.
So, when the kids are whiny and my plans for the day have been scuttled and it feels like things are falling apart, it’s good to know that Christ is the keystone, that he is strong enough to hold me together. But it’s almost more comforting to know that, like me, he has been living dust, he knows what I’m going through, and he’s not going to leave me alone to crumble.