Why Do We Call Jesus “Adonai”?

Looking over the O Antiphons, another one caught my eye: “O Adonai.”

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,

who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and gave him the law on Sinai:

Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

I wondered, why “Adonai”? A quick trip to New Advent soon cleared things up. The Catholic Encyclopediaexplained to me that Adonai is Hebrew for “lord” or “ruler” and is a name for God used in the Old Testament.

This antiphon refers to Isaiah’s prophesy regarding the Messiah, “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us,” (Isaiah 33:22).

Earlier Isaiah says, “But with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins,” (Isaiah 11:4-5).

Lest the above give us pause about welcoming back Christ the Ruler for fear of His justice, we should also take heart from this past Sunday’s first reading from Isaiah when we heard:

Comfort, give comfort to my people,

says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her

that her service is at an end,

her guilt is expiated;

indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD

double for all her sins.

With that type of mercy animating Our Lord, the kind that would give us twice in rewards what we had merited in punishment, we should indeed be emboldened to prepare for His coming, to make straight His way through Confession and repentance, so that we can receive His Love with utmost trust in His mercy this Christmas.

Go up on to a high mountain,

Zion, herald of glad tidings;

cry out at the top of your voice,

Jerusalem, herald of good news!

Fear not to cry out

and say to the cities of Judah:

Here is your God!

Here comes with power

the Lord GOD,

who rules by his strong arm;

here is his reward with him,

his recompense before him.

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;

in his arms he gathers the lambs,

carrying them in his bosom,

and leading the ewes with care. (Isaiah 40:9-11)

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