O Root of Jesse


The Third Antiphon: Radix Jesse

Come to deliver us, and tarry not.

"O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not."

The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.

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The root of Jesse is shown to Isaiah first of all as a sign of destruction. The growth of that Davidic line stemming from Jesse has come to nothing; the kingdom is divided, the people have apostatized; all that seems fruitful and alive in the relationship of God with His people is truncated, destroyed, razed and but a stump remains.

But later in Isaiah comes another prophecy: “A shoot shall spring from the stump of Jesse… behold the maiden is with child.”

The Virgin-born son of David reminds us that God can bring life where, to our lights, it appears impossible. He can reconnect what seemed irrevocably past and lost with something new and even more wonderful.

Perhaps this Root of Jesse can speak to us of spiritual lives which feel as though they are no longer growing, of faith that seems weak and deprived of sap, or of some once-bright hope which now seems cruel against the reality of the daily struggle. It speaks perhaps of the heart which has seen hope wither, love razed by some tragedy which we find it hard to believe God would permit.

Jesus comes to bring new life rising from the very place where none seems possible out of the experience of defeat and helplessness.

From there, from the very root of these things, we can cry: “Come, do not delay.”

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