O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
As we have discussed before, the term "Messiah" or "Christos" simply means "the Anointed." Israel's history is dotted with various figures which have borne the title. Each of them is related to a time or an event in Jewish history when or in which they answered a need for deliverance.
One such figure is that of Eliakim during the reign of Hezekiah, one of David's descendants. Eliakim replaced Shebna as steward or governor of the royal palace. Isaiah wrote of him: I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open. (Isaiah 22:22)
God's promise to keep a descendant of the House of David on the throne is remembered again in today's antiphon. Jesus is looked upon as the one who opens the gates of heaven for humankind, granting us access to God. Just as Adam had lost the right to walk with God, Jesus has restored it through his saving passion, death and resurrection. The antiphon also commemorates the fact that Jesus has released all those who were denied access because they died after Adam's sin but before Jesus' resurrection. As we say in the Apostle's Creed: "He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead. . ."
"Lord, at the angel's message, Mary, the immaculate Virgin, became the temple of God and was filled with the light of the Holy Spirit when she received your divine Word. Grant that, after her example, we may humbly and steadfastly follow your will. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator