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Omicron the little

The Greek alphabet has two letters for the ‘o’ sound – omicron and omega. It’s not hard to remember the difference between the size of their sounds, for they both contain great hints in their names. The first is pronounced as in the word omnibus, and the second, as in the phrase ‘O dear!’. English makes do with just one letter to designate both sounds, and leaves it to the learner to memorize each individual case.

The Greek letters nu and xi were next in line to designate the next iteration of the covid virus, but since nu sounds too much like new, and since xi could have some unintended political ramifications, omicron was chosen to bear the mantle of sacrificing its name. No doubt it would have preferred to be associated with a cure, but hopefully it may live up to its name, and contribute only a small twist to our long pandemic season.

But if not, it’s comforting to remember, and especially at this Christmas season, that the big ‘O’ is still at large in this world. And sovereign and wise and good. “I am the Alpha and Omega,” said Jesus on the last page of the Book – meaning that He had the first word, and He shall have the last. And ‘mega’ shall certainly describe what He has planned for, and shall do, in time and eternity. And therefore we are not to fear the present, nor anything that tomorrow will bring.

DM 11th December 2021


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