Saturday, 19 December 2009

O Radix Iesse

O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

Why does this antiphon call Jesus as the stock (root) of the tree of Jesse? A root is hidden in earth, it is without beauty, it is silent and yet it contains the fullness of the parts of the tree, it is the lifeline of the whole tree, without the root the tree does not exist. In Scriptures root also means the descendants. The prophet Isaiah who inspires this antiphon said: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Is 11:1) When this shoot appears all nations will be united in it, it will lead to salvation and the Spirit of the Lord, Wisdom, will be upon it.
At this holy time of Advent the shoot is to be understood as Jesus: he is an integral part of the people of Israel, tied to human history, a history God uses for salvation in spite of the misery of sin in which it opts to live. In the genealogy of Christ, presented by Matthew, there are significant sinners. This shows that God knows our condition that he enters where we are not to leave us there but to move us on to where we should be. The stock of Jesse will become a sign for all people to behold reminding us of the words of Jesus: “…and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (Jn 12:32)
The elevated cross is the focal moment of human history and of the life of every human being that silences our human words and wisdom and confronts us with the Word and Wisdom of God. Only those “rooted and built up in him” (Col 2:7), “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph 3:17) will be able to contemplate the Mystery of Bethlehem and Calvary listening with inner silence to the Word of Wisdom.
The antiphon closes with an invitation to Christ: “…come to deliver us…”, uniting our cry with the fervent cry of the Old Testament, looking at the root that will flourish and grow in the child of Bethlehem, the crucified and Risen Lord. Come to deliver us Lord, do not delay!

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