] Today's O Antiphon speaks of "radiant dawn" and the "sun of justice." The RSV translates Malachi 4:2 as "sun of righteousness." The translation here from St. Basil also says "sun of righteousness". Some other translations, including the NAB, translate the same phrase as "sun of justice." The Hebrew word translated justice or righteousness means the justice or righteousness of a king, a judge, the law, or the Messiah. The phrase "sun of righteousness" or "sun of justice" evokes the light of God's perfect justice in the kingdom of God.
St. Basil is writing about the wonders of the universe, the sun and stars. "[I]f sometimes, in the day, you have studied the marvels of light, if you have raised yourself by visible things to the invisible Being," then you are prepared to study the sun and stars. "If the sun, subject to corruption, is so beautiful, so grand, so rapid in its movement, so invariable in its course; if its grandeur is in such perfect harmony with and due proportion to the universe: if, by the beauty of its nature, it shines like a brilliant eye in the middle of creation; if finally, one cannot tire of contemplating it, what will be the beauty of the Sun of Righteousness?"
In other words, St. Basil is saying, if the sun and stars are so beautiful that it amazes us to contemplate them, how much more beautiful is Christ, the "Sun of Righteousness"? Comparing Christ as Messiah to the sun, the dawn, the morning star, inspires awe and contemplation of His glory. II Peter 1:19 says poetically, "And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."
It is a description of the beauty, grandeur and justice of Christ as Messiah, worthy of contemplation and adoration. The antiphon says "come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death." John's Gospel describes Christ as light that shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it, that lightens everyone who comes into the world.
Image: Statue of St. Thérèse at El Carmelo Retreat House, photo taken at dawn.