Today we hail Christ as the Key of David. It sounds like a bit of a funny idea to us, but the Key in the Hebrew Bible was a symbol of royal authority, a bit like the sceptre. In Isaiah 22, the Key is taken from a faithless steward and given to a loyal one; some scholars believe it might have been a real ceremonial object. In the Book of Revelation, Christ claims the Key of David for himself.
Keys are signs of authority and responsibility; new Parish Priests receives the Church key as part of their institution ceremony, and all priests by virtue of Apostolic Succession from Saint Peter have the “power of the keys,” the sacramental ministry of absolution (Matthew 16:19).
This Antiphon reminds us that Christ has the power to liberate all people. It’s true both literally, in the case of people and communities living under occupation or oppression, and symbolically, in terms of our captivity to sin. Today we ask Christ to release us from everything that holds us prisoner, and bring us into the freedom of his light.
O Key of David,
and Sceptre of the House of Israel,
who opens, and no-one shuts;
shuts, and no-one opens:
Come, and lead the prisoner out of the prison-house,
who sits in darkness and the shadow of death.